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Full text of "The moonstone"

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THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 

SANTA BARBARA 



PRESENTED BY 

MRS. ALFRz^D W. INGALLS 



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THE MOONSTONE 



BY 

WILKIE COLLINS 



ComeMe Ibumainc 

Masterpieces of the great 
English novelists in which 
are portrayed the varying 
aspects of English life from 
the time of Addison to the 
present day: a series anal- 
ogous to that in which 
Balzac depicted the man- 
ners and morals of his 
French contemporaries. 




" Clear the loom 



^be JBwQUeb ComcDic Ibumatne 



THE MOONSTONE 



BY 



WILKIE COLLINS 




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NEW YORK 

Zhc Century Co. 

1906 



Copyright, 1903, by 
The Century Co. 



Published, October, iq03 



PUBLISHERS' NOTE 

The literary career of William Wilkie Collins (born in 1824) coin- 
cides very nearly with the second half of the nineteenth cen- 
tury. His first novel, " Antonina, " was published in 1850, and 
from that date until his death in 1889 his stories followed one 
another in uninterrupted succession. The list of his more im- 
portant publications, including several volumes of short stories, 
comprises twenty-seven titles. His life, which was uneventful, was 
passed in his birthplace, London, with the exception of several 
periods of travel, one of which (1873-4) was spent in the United 
States. 

As a novelist Collins occupies a position below that of his great 
contemporaries, Dickens, Thackeray, and George Eliot; nor can 
he be placed on a level with Trollope, if subtle delineation of 
character and felicity of style alone are considered. But h'5 works 
possess qualities of their own which secured for them a vast num- 
ber of delighted readers while he lived, and will give them a high 
and permanent place in the history of English fiction. In the 
masterly development of plots and the construction and compo- 
sition of incidents and effects he is without a rival. The readers 
of this volume will understand and agree with Mr. Swinburne 
when he says of another of his tales, " Dickens never wrote and 
Thackeray never tried to write a story so excellent in construction 
and so persistent in its hold on the reader's curiosity — a curiosity 
amounting, in the case of the younger and more impressible 
readers, to absolute anxiety." This is high praise from a master 
of criticism, but not too high. He was, moreover, not only a great 
story-teller, but also a literary artist of no mean ability. If the 
portraits which he drew lack some of the highest qualities, they 
are certainly executed with fidelity and sincerity; they are— to 
quote Swinburne again — " works of art as true as his godfather's 
[David Wilkie's] pictures, and in their own line as complete." 
" The Moonstone," perhaps his most popular novel, was published 
in 1868. 



THE MOONSTONE 



THE MOONSTONE 



PROLOGUE 

THE STORMING OF SERINGAPATAM (1799). 

(Extracted Jrom a Family Paper.) 



I. 



I ADDRESS these lines — written in India — to my relatives 
in England. 

My object is to explain the motive which has induced me 
to refuse the right hand of friendship to my cousin, John 
Herncastle. The reserve which I have hitherto maintained 
in this matter has been misinterpreted by members of my 
family whose good opinion I can not consent to forfeit. I 
request them to suspend their decision until they have read 
my narrative. And I declare, on my word of honor, that 
vv^hat I am now about to write is, strictly and literally, the 
truth. 

The private difference between my cousin and me took its 
rise in a great public event in which we were both concerned 
— the storming of Seringapatam, under General Baird, on the 
4th of May, 1799. 

In order that the circumstances may be clearly understood, 
I must revert for a moment to the period before the assault, 
and to the stories current in our camp of the treasure in jew- 
els and gold stored up in the Palace of Seringapatam. 



II. 



One of the wildest of these stories related to a Yellow Dia- 
mond — a famous gem in the native annals of India. 

The earliest known traditions describe the stone as having- 



THE MOONSTONE 

been set in the forehead of the four-handed Indian god who 
typifies the Moon. Partly from its pecuHar color, partly 
from a superstition which represented it as partaking of the 
nature of the deity whom it adorned, and growing and lessen- 
ing in lustre with the waxing and waning of the moon, it 
first gained the name by which it continues to be known in 
India to this day — the name of The Moonstone. A similar 
superstition was once prevalent, as I have heard, in ancient 
Greece and Rome; not applying, however (as in India), to a 
diamond devoted to the service of a god, but to a semi- 
transparent stone of the inferior order of gems, supposed to 
be affected by the lunar influences — the moon, in this latter 
case also, giving the name by which the stone is still known 
to collectors in our own time. 

The adventures of the Yellow Diamond begin with the 
eleventh century of the Christian era. At that date the Mo- 
hammedan conqueror, Mahmud of Ghazni, crossed India ; 
seized on the holy city of Somnath ; and stripped of its trea- 
sures the famous temple which had stood for centuries — the 
shrine of Hindoo pilgrimage, and the wonder of the Eastern 
world. 

Of all the deities worshiped in the temple, the moon-god 
alone escaped the rapacity of the conquering Mohammedans. 
Preserved by three Brahmans, the inviolate deity, bearing 
the Yellow Diamond in its forehead, was removed by night, 
and was transported to the second of the sacred cities of India 
— the city of Benares. 

Here, in a new shrine — in a hall inlaid with precious 
stones, under a roof supported by pillars of gold — the moon- 
god was set up and worshiped. Here, on the night when 
the shrine was completed, Vishnu the Preserver appeared to 
the three Brahmans in a dream. 

The deity breathed the breath of his divinity on the Dia- 
mond in the forehead of the god. And the Brahmans knelt 
and hid their faces in their robes. The deity commanded 
that the Moonstone should be watched, from that time forth, 
by three priests in turn, night and day, to the end of the 
generations of men. And the Brahmans heard and bowed 
before his will. The deity predicted certain disaster to the 
presumptuous mortal who laid hands on the sacred gem, and 

4 



THE MOONSTONE 

to all of his house and name who received it after him. And 
the Brahnians caused the prophecy to be written over the 
gates of the shrine in letters of gold. 

One age followed another — and still, generation after gen- 
eration, the successors of the three Brahmans watched their 
priceless Moonstone, night and day. One age followed an- 
other, until the first years of the eighteenth Christian century 
saw the reign of Aurung-Zeb, Emperor of the Moguls. At 
his command havoc and rapine were let loose once more 
among the temples of the worship of Brahmah. The shrine 
of the four-handed god was polluted by the slaughter of 
sacred animals ; the images of the deities were broken in 
pieces ; and the Moonstone was seized by an officer of rank in 
the army of Aurung-Zeb. 

Powerless to recover their lost treasure by open force, the 
three guardian priests followed and watched it in disguise. 
The generations succeeded each other ; the warrior who had 
committed the sacrilege perished miserably; the Moonstone 
passed (carrying its curse with it) from one lawless Moham- 
medan hand to another; and still, through all chances and 
changes, the successors of the three guardian priests kept 
their watch, waiting the day when the will of Vishnu the 
Preserver should restore to them their sacred gem. Time 
rolled on from the first to the last years of the eighteenth 
Christian century. The Diamond fell into the possession of 
Tippoo, Sultan of Seringapatam, who caused it to be placed 
as an ornament in the handle of a dagger, and who com- 
manded it to be kept among the choicest treasures of his 
armory. Even then — in the palace of the Sultan himself — the 
three guardian priests still watched in secret. There were 
three officers of Tippoo's household, strangers to the rest, 
who had won their master's confidence by conforming, or 
appearing to conform, to the Mussulman faith ; and to those 
three men report pointed as the three priests in disguise. 



III. 

So, as told in our camp, ran the fanciful story of the Moon- 
stone. Tt made no serious impression on any of us except 

5 



THE MOONSTONE 

my cousin — whose love of the marvelous induced him to be- 
lieve it. On the night before the assault on Seringapatam 
he was absurdly angry with me, and with others, for treat- 
ing the whole thing as a fable. A foolish wrangle followed ; 
and Herncastle's unlucky temper got the better of him. He 
declared, in his boastful way, that we should see the Dia- 
mond on his finger if the English army took Seringapatam. 
The sally was saluted by a roar of laughter, and there, as we 
all thought that night, the thing ended. 

Let me now take you on to the day of the assault. 

My cousin and I were separated at the outset. I never 
saw him when we forded the river ; when we planted the 
English flag in the first breach ; when we crossed the ditch 
beyond; and, fighting every inch of our way, entered the 
town. It was only at dusk, when the place was ours, and 
after General Baird himself had found the dead body of Tip- 
poo under a heap of the slain, that Herncastle and I met. 

We were each attached to a party sent out by the general's 
orders to prevent the plunder and confusion which followed 
our conquest. The camp-followers committed deplorable 
excesses ; and, worse still, the soldiers found their way, 
by an unguarded door, into the treasury of the Palace and 
loaded themselves with gold and jewels. It was in the court 
outside the treasury that my cousin and I met to enforce the 
laws of discipline on our own soldiers. Herncastle's fiery 
temper had been, as I could plainly see, exasperated to a kind 
of frenzy by the terrible slaughter through which we had 
passed. He was very unfit, in my opinion, to perform the 
duty that had been intrusted to him. 

There was riot and confusion enough in the treasury, but 
no violence that I saw. The men (if I may use such an ex- 
pression) disgraced themselves good-humoredly. All sorts 
of rough jests and catch-words were bandied about among 
them ; and the story of the Diamond turned up again un- 
expectedly, in the form of a mischievous joke. "Who's got 
the Moonstone?" was the rallying cry which perpetually 
caused the plundering as soon as it was stopped in one place 
to break out in another. While I was still vainly trying to 
establish order I heard a frightful yelling on the other side 
of the court-yard, and at once ran toward the cries, in dread 
of finding some new outbreak of the pillage in that direction. 

6 



THE MOONSTONE 

I got to an open door, and saw the bodies of two Indians 
(by their dress, as I guessed, officers of the palace) lying 
across the entrance, dead. 

A cry inside hurried me into a room, which appeared to 
serve as an armory. A third Indian, mortally wounded, was 
sinking at the feet of a man whose back was toward me. The 
man turned at the instant when I came in, and I saw John 
Herncastle, with a torch in one hand and a dagger dripping 
with blood in the other. A stone, set like a pommel, in the 
end of the dagger's handle, flashed in the torch-light, as he 
turned on me, like a gleam of fire. The dying Indian sank 
to his knees, pointed to the dagger in Herncastle's hand, and 
said, in his native language : "The Moonstone will have its 
vengeance yet on you and yours !" He spoke those words, 
and fell dead on the floor. 

Before I could stir in the matter the men who had followed 
me across the court-yard crowded in. My cousin rushed to 
meet them, like a madman. "Clear the room !" he shouted 
to me, "and set a guard on the door !" The men fell back as 
he threw himself on them with his torch and his dagger. I 
put two sentinels of my own company, on whom I could rely, 
to keep the door. Through the remainder of the night I saw 
no more of my cousin. 

Early in the morning, the plunder still going on, General 
Baird announced publicly by beat of drum that any thief 
detected in the fact, be he whom he might, should be hung. 
The provost marshal was in attendance to prove that the 
general was in earnest; and in the throng that followed the 
proclamation Herncastle and I met again. 

He held out his hand as usual, and, said, "Good-morn- 
ing." 

I waited before I gave him my hand in return. 

"Tell me first," I said, "how the Indian in the armory met 
his death, and what those last words meant when he pointed 
to the dagger in your hand." 

"The Indian met his death, as I suppose, by a mortal 
wound," said Herncastle. "What his last words meant I 
know no more than you do." 

I looked at him narrowly. His frenzy of the previous day 
had all calmed down. I determined to give him another 
chance. 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Is that all you have to tell me ?" I asked. 

He answered, "That is all." 

I turned my back on him ; and we have not spoken since. 



IV. 



I BEG it to be understood that what I write here about 
my cousin (unless some necessity should arise for making it 
public) is for the information of the family only. Herncastle 
has said nothing that can justify me in speaking to our com- 
manding officer. He has been taunted more than once about 
the Diamond, by those who recollect his angry outbreak be- 
fore the assault ; but, as may easily be imagined, his own re- 
membrance of the circumstances under which I surprised him 
in the armory has been enough to keep him silent. It is re- 
ported that he means to exchange into another regiment, 
avowedly for the purpose of separating himself and me. 

Whether this be true or not, I can not prevail upon my- 
self to become his accuser — and I think with good reason. 
If I made the matter public, I have no evidence but moral 
evidence to bring forward. I have not only no proof that 
he killed the two men at the door ; I can not even declare 
that he killed the third man inside — for I can not say that 
my own eyes saw the deed committed. It is true that I heard 
the dying Indian's words ; but if those words were pro- 
nounced to be the ravings of delirium, how could I contra- 
dict the assertion from my own knowledge? Let our rela- 
tives, on either side, form their own opinion on what I have 
written, and decide for themselves whether the aversion I 
now feel toward this man is well or ill founded. 

Although I attach no sort of credit to the fantastic Indian 
legend of the gem, I must acknowledge, before I conclude, 
that I am influenced by a certain superstition of my own in 
this matter. It is my conviction, or my delusion, no matter 
which, that crime brings its own fatality with it. I am not 
only persuaded of Herncastle's guilt ; I am even fanciful 
enough to believe that he will live to regret it, if he keeps 
the Diamond; and that others will live to regret taking it 
from him, if he gives the Diamond away. 

8 



THE MOONSTONE 



THE STORY 

FIRST PERIOD. LOSS OF THE DIAMOND (1848) 

The Events related by Gabriel Betteredge, house-steward in the 
Service of Julia, Lady Verinder. 



CHAPTER I. 

IN the first part of Robinson Crusoe, at page one hundred 
and twenty-nine, you will find it thus written : 

"Now I saw, though too late, the Folly of beginning a 
Work before we count the Cost, and before we judge rightly 
of our own Strength to go through with it." 

Only yesterday I opened my Robinson Crusoe at that place. 
Only this morning — May twenty-first, eighteen hundred and 
fifty — came my lady's nephew, Mr. Franklin Blake, and held 
a short conversation with me, as follows : 

"Betteredge," says Mr. Franklin, "I have been to the law- 
yer's about some family matters; and, among other things, 
we have been talking of the loss of the Indian Diamond, in 
my aunt's house in Yorkshire, two years since. The lawyer 
thinks, as I think, that the whole story ought, in the inter- 
ests of truth, to be placed on record in writing — and the 
sooner the better." 

Not perceiving his drift yet, and thinking it always de- 
sirable for the sake of peace and quietness to be on the law- 
yer's side, I said I thought so too. Mr. Franklin went on : 

"In this matter of the Diamond," he said, "the characters 
of innocent people have suffered under suspicion already — 
as }'OU know. The memories of innocent people may suffer, 
hereafter, for want of a record of the facts to which those 
who come after us can appeal. There can be no doubt that 
this strange family story of ours ought to be told. And I 



THE MOONSTONE 

think, Betteredge, the lawyer and I together have hit on the 
right way of telling it." 

Very satisfactory to both of them, no doubt. But I failed 
to see what I myself had to do with it, so far. 

"We have certain events to relate," Mr, Eranklin pro- 
ceeded ; "and we have certain persons concerned in those 
events who are capj^'ole of relating them. Starting from these 
plain facts, the lawyer's idea is that we should all write the 
story of the Moonstone in turn — as far as our own personal 
experience extends, and no further. We must begin by show- 
ing how the Diamond first fell into the hands of my uncle 
Herncastle, when he was serving in India fifty years since. 
This prefatory narrative I have already got by me in the 
form of an old family paper, which relates the necessary par- 
ticvilars on the authority of an eye-witness. The next thing 
to do is to tell how the Diamond found its way into my 
aunt's house in Yorkshire, two years since, and how it came 
to be lost in little more than twelve hours afterward. No- 
body knows as much as you do, Betteredge, about what went 
on in the house at that time. So you must take the pen in 
hand, and start the story." 

In those terms I was informed of what my personal con- 
cern was with the matter of the Diamond. If you are curi- 
ous to know what course I took under the circumstances, I 
beg to inform you that I did what you would probably have 
done in my place. I modestly declared myself to be quite 
unequal to the task imposed upon me — and I privately felt, 
all the time, that I was quite clever enough to perform it, if 
I only gave my own abilities a fair chance. Mr. Franklin, 
I imagine, must have seen my private sentiments in my face. 
He declined to believe in my modesty ; and he insisted on 
giving my abilities a fair chance. 

Two hours have passed since Mr. Franklin left me. As 
soon as his back was turned I went to my writing-desk to 
start the story. There I have sat helpless (in spite of my 
abilities) ever since, seeing what Robinson Crusoe saw, as 
quoted above, namely : the folly of beginning a work before 
we count the cost, and before we judge rightly of our own 
strength to go through wdth it. Please to remember, I opened 



THE MOONSTONE 

the book by accident, at that bit, only the day before I rashly 
undertook the business now in hand ; and, allow me to ask — 
if that isn't prophecy, what is? 

I am not superstitious ; I have read a heap of books in my 
time ; I am a scholar in my own way. Though turned sev- 
enty, I possess an active memory, and legs to correspond. 
You are not to take it, if you please, as the saying of an igno- 
rant man, when I express my opinion that such a book as 
Robinson Crusoe never was written, and never will be writ- 
ten again. I have tried that book for years — generally in 
combination with a pipe of tobacco — and I have found it 
my friend in need in all the necessities of this mortal life. 
When my spirits are bad — Robinson Crusoe. When I want 
advice — Robinson Crusoe. In past times, when my wife 
plagued me ; in present times, when I have had a drop too 
much — Robinson Crusoe. I have worn out six stout Rob- 
inson Crusoes with hard work in my service. On my lady's 
last birthday she gave me a seventh. I took a drop too 
much on the strength of it ; and Robinson Crusoe put me 
right again. Price four shillings and sixpence, bound in blue, 
with a picture into the bargain. 

Still, this don't look much like starting the story of the 
Diamond — does it? I seem to be wandering off in search 
of Lord knows what, Lord knows where. We will take a 
new sheet of paper, if you please, and begin over again, with 
my best respects to you. 



CHAPTER H. 



I SPOKE of my lady a line or two back. Now the Dia- 
mond could never have been in our house, where it was 
lost, if it had not been made a present of to my lady's daugh- 
ter; and my lady's daughter would never have been in exist- 
ence to have the present, if it had not been for my lady who, 
with pain and travail, produced her into the world. Conse- 
quently, if we begin with my lady, we are pretty sure of be- 
ginning far enough back. And that, let me tell you, wdien 

13 



THE MOONSTONE 

you have got such a job as mine on hand, is a real comfort 
at starting. 

If you know any thing of the fashionable world you have 
heard tell of the three beautiful Miss Herncastles, — Miss 
Adelaide, Miss Caroline, and Miss Julia — this last being the 
youngest and the best of the three sisters, in my opinion ; 
and I had opportunities of judging, as you shall presently 
see. I went into the service of the old lord, their father 
(thank God, we have got nothing to do with hhn in this 
business of the Diamond ; he had the longest tongue and the 
shortest temper of any man, high or low, I ever met with) — 
I say, I went into the service of the old lord, as page-boy in 
waiting on the three honorable young ladies, at the age of 
fifteen years. There I lived till Miss Julia married the late 
Sir John Verinder. An excellent man, who only wanted 
somebody to manage him ; and, between ourselves, he found 
somebody to do it ; and what is more, he throve on it, and 
grew fat on it, and lived happy and died easy on it, dating 
from the day when my lady took him to church to be mar- 
ried to the day when she relieved him of his last breath and 
closed his eyes forever. 

I have omitted to state that I went with the bride to the 
bride's husband's house and lands down here. "Sir John," 
she said, "I can't do without Gabriel Betteredge." "My 
lady," says Sir John, "I can't do without him, either." That 
was his way with her — and that was how I went into his 
service. It was all one to me where I went, so long as my 
mistress and I were together. 

Seeing that my lady took an interest in the out-of-door 
work, and the farms, and such like, I took an interest in them 
too — with all the more reason that I was a small farmer's 
seventh son myself. My lady got me put under the bailiff, 
and I did my best, and gave satisfaction, and got promotion 
accordingly. Some years later, on the Monday as it might 
be, my lady says, "Sir John, your bailiff is a stupid old man. 
Pension him liberally, and let Gabriel Betteredge have his 
place." On the Tuesday as it might be. Sir John says, "My 
lady, the bailiff is pensioned liberally ; and Gabriel Better- 
edge has got his place." You hear more than enough of 
married people living together miserably. Here is an ex- 

14 



THE MOONSTONE 

ample to the contrary. Let it be a warning to some of you, 
and an encouragement to others. In the meantime, I will 
go on with my story. 

Well, there I was in clover, you will say. Placed in a 
position of trust and honor, with a little cottage of my own 
to live in, with my rounds on the estate to occupy me in the 
morning and my accounts in the afternoon, and my pipe and 
my Robinson Crusoe in the evening — what more could I pos- 
sibly want to make me happy? Remember what Adam 
wanted when he was alone in the Garden of Eden ; and if you 
don't blame it in Adam, don't blame it in me. 

The woman I fixed my eye on was the woman who kept 
house for me at my cottage. Her name was Selina Goby. 
I agree with the late William Cobbett about picking a wife. 
See that she chews her food well and sets her foot down firmly 
on the ground when she walks, and you're all right. Selina 
Goby was all right in both these respects, which was one rea- 
son for marrying her. I had another reason, likewise, en- 
tirely of my own discovering. Selina, being a single woman, 
made me pay so much a week for her board and services. 
Selina, being my wife, couldn't charge for her board, and 
would have to give me her services for nothing. That was 
the point of view I looked at it from. Economy — with a dash 
of love. I put it to my mistress, as in duty bound, just as I 
have put it to myself. 

r "1 have been turning Selina Goby over in my mind," I 

I said, "and I think, my lady, it will be cheaper to marry her 

I than to keep her," 

^ My lady burst out laughing, and said she didn't know 
which to be most shocked at, my language or my principles. 
Some joke tickled her, I suppose, of the sort that you can't 
take unless you are a person of quality. Understanding noth- 
ing myself but that I was free to put it next to Selina, I went 
and put it accordingly. And what did Selina say ? Lord ! 
how little you must know of women, if you ask that. Of 
course, she said, "Yes." 

As my time drew nearer, and there got to be talk of my 
having a new coat for the ceremony, my mind began to mis- 
give me. I have compared notes with other men as to what 
they felt while they were in my interesting situation ; and 

15 



THE MOONSTONE 

they have all acknowledged that, about a week before it hap- 
pened, they privately wished themselves out of it. I went 
a trifle further than that myself; I actually rose up, as it 
were, and tried to get out of it. Not for nothing ! I was 
too just a man to expect she would let me off for nothing. 
Compensation to the woman when the man gets out of it is 
one of the laws of England. In obedience to the laws, and 
after turning it over carefully in mind, I offered Selina Goby 
a feather-bed and fifty shillings to be off the bargain. You 
will hardly believe it, but it is nevertheless true — she was 
fool enough to refuse. 

After that it was all over with me, of course. I got the 
new coat as cheap as I could, and I went through all the rest 
of it as cheap as I could. We were not a happy couple, and 
not a miserable couple. We were six of one, and half a 
dozen of the other. How it was, I don't understand ; but we 
always seemed to be getting, with the best of motives, in one 
another's way. When I wanted to go up stairs, there was 
my wife coming down ; or when my wife wanted to go down, 
there was I coming up. That is married life, according to my 
experience of it. 

After five years of misunderstandings on the stairs, it 
pleased an all-wise Providence to relieve us of each other 
by taking my wife. I was left with my little girl Penelope, 
and with no other child. Shortly afterward Sir John died, 
and my lady was left with her little girl Miss Rachel, and 
no other child. I have written to very poor purpose of my 
lady, if you require to be told that my little Penelope was 
taken care of under my good mistress's own eye, and was 
sent to school, and taught, and made a sharp girl, and pro- 
moted, when old enough, to be Miss Rachel's own maid. 

As for me, I went on with my business as bailiff year after 
year up to Christmas, 1847, when there came a change in 
my life. On that day my lady invited herself to a cup of 
tea alone with me in my cottage. She remarked that reck- 
oning from the year when I started as page-boy in the time 
of the old lord, I had been more than fifty years in her ser- 
vice, and she put into my hands a beautiful waistcoat of wool 
that she had worked herself, to keep me warm in the bitter 
winter weather. 

16 



THE MOONSTONE 

I received this magnificent present quite at a loss to find 
words to thank my mistress with for the honor she had done 
me. To my great astonishment, it turned out, however, that 
the waistcoat was not an honor, but a bribe. My lady had 
discovered that I was getting old before I had discovered it 
myself, and she had come to my cottage to wheedle me, if I 
may use such an expression, into giving up my hard, out-of- 
door work as bailiff, and taking my ease for the rest of my 
days as steward in the house. I made as good a fight of it 
against the indignity of taking my ease as I could. But my 
mistress knew the weak side of me; she put it as a favor to 
herself. The dispttte between us ended, after that, in my 
wiping my eyes, like an old fool, with my new woolen waist- 
coat, and saying I would think about it. 

The perturbation in my mind, in regard to thinking about 
it, being truly dreadful after my lady had gone away, I ap- 
plied the remedy which I have never yet found to fail me in 
cases of doubt and emergency. I smoked a pipe and took a 
turn at Robinson Crusoe. Before I had occupied myself with 
that extraordinary book five minutes I came on a comforting 
bit (page one hundred and fifty-eight), as follows: "To-day 
we love what to-morrow we hate." I saw my way clear 
directly. To-day I was all for continuing to be farm-bailiff; 
to-morrow, on the authority of Robinson Crusoe, I should be 
all the other way. Take myself to-morrow while in to-mor- 
row's humor, and the thing was done. My mind being re- 
lieved in this manner, I went to sleep that night in the char- 
acter of Lady Verinder's farm-bailiff, and I woke up next 
morning in the character of Lady Verinder's hovise-stewardi 
All quite comfortable, and all through Robinson Crusoe ! 

My daughter Penelope has just looked over my shoulder to 
see what I have done so far. She remarks that it is beau- 
tifully written, and every word of it true. But she points 
out one objection. She says, what I have done so far isn't 
in the least what I was wanted to do. I am asked to tell the 
story of the Diamond, and, instead of that, I have been tell- 
ing the story of my own self. Curious, and quite beyond me 
to account for. I wonder whether the gentlemen who make 
a business and a living out of writing books ever find their 

IT 



THE MOONSTONE 

own selves getting in the way of their subjects Hke me? If 
they do, I can feel for them. In the mean time, here is an- 
other false start, and more waste of good writing-paper. 
What's to be done now ? Nothing that I know of, except for 
you to keep your temper, and for me to begin it all over again 
for the third time. 



CHAPTER III. 



THE question of how I am to start the story properly I 
have tried to settle in two ways. First, by scratching 
my head, which led to nothing. Second, by consulting my 
daughter Penelope, which has resulted in an entirely new 
idea. 

Penelope's notion is that I should set down what happened 
regularly day by day, beginning with the day when we got 
the news that Mr. Franklin Blake was expected on a visit to 
the house. When you come to fix your memory with a date 
in this way, it is wonderful what your memory will pick up 
for you upon that compulsion. The only difficulty is to fetch 
out the dates, in the first place. This Penelope offers to do 
for me by looking into her own diary, which she was taught 
to keep when she was at school, and which she has gone on 
keeping ever since. In answer to an improvement on this 
notion, devised by myself, namely, that she should tell the 
story instead of me, out of her own diary, Penelope observes, 
with a fierce look and a red face, that her journal is for her 
own private eye, and that no living creature shall ever know 
what is in it but herself. When I inquire what this means, 
Penelope says, "Fiddlestick !" / say, "Sweet-hearts." 

Beginning, then, on Penelope's plan, I beg to mention that 
I was specially called one Wednesday morning into my lady's 
own sitting-room, the date being the twenty-fourth of May, 
eighteen hundred and forty-eight. 

"Gabriel," says my lady, "here is news that will surprise 
you. Franklin Blake has come back from abroad. He has 
been staying with his father in London, and he is coming to 
us to-morrow to stop till next month and keep Rachel's 
birthday." 

i8 



THE MOONSTONE 

If I had had a hat in my hand nothing but respect would 
have prevented me from throwing that hat up to the ceil- 
ing. I had not seen Mr. FrankHn since he was a boy, living 
along with us in this house. He was, out of all sight, as I re- 
membered him, the nicest boy that ever spun a top or broke 
a window. Miss Rachel, who was present and to whom I 
made that remark, observed, in return, that she remembered 
him as the most atrocious tyrant that ever tortured a doll, 
and the hardest driver of an exhausted little girl in string 
harness that England could produce. "I burn with indig- 
nation and I ache with fatigue," was the way Miss Rachel 
summed it up, "when I think of Franklin Blake." 

Hearing what I now tell you, you will naturally ask how 
it was that Mr. Franklin should have passed all the years, 
from the time when he was a boy to the time when he was a 
man, out of his own country. I answer, because his father 
had the misfortune to be next heir to a Dukedom, and not to 
be able to prove it. 

In two words, this was how the thing happened : 

My lady's eldest sister married the celebrated Mr. Blake 
— equally famous for his great riches and his great suit at 
law. How many years he went on worrying the tribunals 
of his country to turn out the Duke in possession and to put 
himself in the Duke's place; how many lawyers' purses he 
filled to bursting, and how many otherwise harmless people 
he set by the ears together disputing whether he was right 
or wrong — is more by a great deal than I can reckon up. His 
wife died, and two of his three children died, before the tri- 
bunals could make up their minds to show him the door and 
take no more of his money. When it was all over, and the 
Duke in possession was left in possession, Mr. Blake discov- 
ered that the only way of being even with his country for 
the manner in which it had treated him was not to let his 
country have the honor of educating his son. "How can I 
trust my native institutions," was the form in which he put 
it, "after the way in which my native institutions have be- 
haved to me?" Add to this that Mr. Blake disliked all boys, 
his own included, and you will admit that it could only end 
in one way. Master Franklin was taken from us in England 
and was sent to institutions which his father could trust, in 

19 



THE MOONSTONE 

that superior country, Germany ; Mr. Blake himself, you will 
observe, remaining snug in England, to improve his fellow- 
countrymen in the Parliament House and to publish a state- 
ment on the subject of the Duke in possession, which has 
remained an unfinished statement from that day to this. 

There ! Thank God, that's told ! Neither you nor I need 
trouble our heads any more about Mr. Blake, senior. Leave 
him to the Dukedom, and let you and I stick to the Dia- 
mond. 

The Diamond takes us back to Mr. Franklin, who was the 
innocent means of bringing that unlucky jewel into the house. 

Our nice boy didn't forget us after he went abroad. He 
wrote every now and then ; sometimes to my lady, some- 
times to Miss Rachel, and sometimes to me. We had had a 
transaction together before he left, which consisted of his 
borrowing of me a ball of string, a four-bladed knife, and 
seven-and-sixpence in money — the color of which last I have 
not seen, and never expect to see, again. His letters to me 
chiefly related to borrowing more. I heard, however, from 
my lady, how he got on abroad, as he grew in years and 
stature. After he had learned what the institutions of Ger- 
many could teach him, he gave the French a turn next, and 
the Italians a turn after that. They made him among them 
a sort of universal genius, as well as I could understand it. 
He wrote a little ; he painted a little ; he sang and played and 
composed a little — borrowing, as I suspect, in all these cases, 
just as he had borrowed from me. His mother's fortune, 
seven hundred a year, fell to him when he came of age, and 
ran through him as it might be through a sieve. The more 
money he had, the more he wanted ; there was a hole in Mr. 
Franklin's pocket that nothing would sew up. Wherever 
he went the lively, easy way of him made him welcome. He 
lived here, there, and everywhere ; his address, as he used to 
put it himself, being "Post-office, Europe — to be left till called 
for." Twice over he made up his mind to come back to 
England and see us ; and twice over (saving your presence) 
some unmentionable woman stood in the way and stopped 
him. His third attempt succeeded, as you.know already from 
what my lady told me. On Thursday, the twenty-fifth of 
May, we were to see for the first time what our nice boy had 

20 



THE MOONSTONE 

grown to be as a man. He came of good blood; he had a 
high courage ; and he was five-and-twenty years of age, by 
our reckoning. Now you know as much of Mr. Franklin 
Blake as I did — before Mr. Franklin Blake came down to our 
house. 

The Thursday was as fine a summer's day as ever you saw ; 
and my lady and Miss Rachel, not expecting Mr. Frank- 
lin till dinner-time, drove out to lunch with some friends in 
the neighborhood. 

When they were gone I went and had a look at the bed- 
room which had been got ready for our guest, and saw that 
all was straight. Then, being butler in my lady's establish- 
ment, as well as steward — at my own particular request, 
mind, and because it vexed me to see any body but myself 
in possession of the key of the late Sir John's cellar — then, 
I say, I fetched up some of our famous Latour claret, and set 
it in the warm summer air to take off the chill before din- 
ner. Concluding to set myself in the warm summer air next 
— seeing that what is good for old claret is equally good for 
old age — I took up my bee-hive chair to go out into the back 
court, when I was stopped by hearing a sound like the soft 
beating of a drum on the terrace in front of my lady's resi- 
dence. 

Going round to the terrace, I found three mahogany-col- 
ored Indians, in white linen frocks and trousers, looking up 
at the house. 

The Indians, as I saw on looking closer, had small hand- 
drums slung in front of them. Behind them stood a little, 
delicate-looking, light-haired, English boy carrying a bag. I 
judged the fellows to be strolling conjurers and the boy with 
the bag to be carrying the tools of their trade. One of the 
three, who spoke English, and who exhibited, I must own, 
the most elegant manners, presently informed me that my 
judgment was right. He requested permission to show his 
tricks in the presence of the lady of the house. 

Now I am not a sour old man. I am generally all for 
amusement and the last person in the world to distrust an- 
other person because he happens to be a few shades darker 
than nivself. But the best of us have our weaknesses — and 



THE MOONSTONE 

my weakness, when I know a family plate-basket to be out 
on a pantry-table, is to be instantly reminded of that basket 
by the sight of a strolling stranger whose manners are supe- 
rior to my own. I accordingly informed the Indian that the 
lady of the house was out, and I warned him and his party 
oflF the premises. He made me a beautiful bow in return, 
and he and his party went off the premises. On my side, I 
returned to my bee-hive chair, and set myself down on the 
sunny side of the court, and fell, if the truth must be owned, 
not exactly into a sleep, but into the next best thing to it. 

I was roused up by my daughter Penelope running out at me 
as if the house was on fire. What do you think she wanted? 
She wanted to have the three Indian 'jugglers instantly 
taken up; for this reason, namely, that they knew who was 
coming from London to visit us and that they meant some 
mischief to Mr. Franklin Blake. 

Mr. Franklin's name roused me. I opened my eyes and 
made my girl explain herself. 

It appeared that Penelope had just come from our lodge, 
where she had been having a gossip with the lodge-keeper's 
daughter. The two girls had seen the Indians pass out, after 
I had warned them off, followed by their little boy. Taking 
it into their heads that the boy was ill used by the foreigners 
— for no reason that I could discover, except that he was 
pretty and delicate-looking — the girls had stolen along the 
inner side of the hedge between us and the road and had 
watched the proceedings of the foreigners on the outer side. 
These proceedings resulted in the performance of the follow- 
ing extraordinary tricks. 

They first looked up the road and down the road, and made 
sure that they were alone. Then they all three faced about 
and stared hard in the direction of our house. Then they 
jabbered and disputed in their own language, and looked at 
each other like men in doubt. Then they all turned to their 
little English boy, as if they expected him to help them. And 
then the chief Indian, who spoke English, said to the boy, 
"Hold out your hand." 

On hearing those dreadful words, my daughter Penelope 
said she didn't know what prevented her heart from flying 
straight out of her. I thought privately that it might have 

22 



! 



THE MOONSTONE 

been her stays. All I said, however, was, "You make my 
flesh creep." (Nofa bene: women like these little compli- 
ments.) 

Well, when the Indian said, "Hold out your hand," the 
boy shrank back, and shook his head, and said he didn't like 
it. The Indian thereupon asked him, not at all unkindly, 
whether he would like to be sent back to London and left 
where they had found him, sleeping in an empty basket in a 
market — a hungry, ragged and forsaken little boy. This, it 
seems, ended the difficulty. The little chap unwillingly held 
out his hand. Upon that the Indian took a bottle from his 
bosom and poured out of it some black stuff, like ink, into 
the palm of the hoy's hand. The Indian — first touching the 
boy's head, and making signs over it in the air — then said, 
"Look." The boy became quite stiff and stood like a statue, 
looking into the ink in the hollow of his hand. 

(So far, it seemed to me to be juggling, accompanied by a 
foolish waste of ink. I was beginning to feel sleepy again, 
when Penelope's next words stirred me up.) 

The Indians looked up the road and down the road once 
more — and then the chief Indian said these words to the boy, 
"See the English gentleman from foreign parts." 

The boy said, "I see him." 

The Indian said, "Is it on the road to this house, and on 
no other, that the English gentleman will pass by us to-day ?" 

The boy said, "It is on the road to this house, and on no 
other, that the English gentleman will pass by you to-day." 

The Indian put a second question — after waiting a little 
first. He said, "Has the English gentleman got It about 
him ?" 

The boy answered — also, after waiting a little first — "Yes." 

The Indian put a third and last question, "Will the English 
gentleman come here, as he has promised to come, at the 
close of day?" 

The boy said, "I can't tell." 

The Indian asked why. 

The boy said, "I am tired. The mist rises in my head, 
and puzzles me. I can see no more to-day." 

With that the catechism ended. The chief Indian said 
something in his own language to the other two, pointing to 

^5 



THE MOONSTONE 

the boy, and pointing toward the town, in which, as we 
afterward discovered, they were lodged. He then, after mak- 
ing more signs on the boy's head, blew on his forehead, and 
so woke him up with a start. After that they all went on 
their way toward the town and the girls saw them no more. 

Most things, they say, have a moral, if you only look for it. 
What was the moral of this? 

The moral was, as I thought: First, that the chief juggler 
had heard Mr. Franklin's arrival talked of among the ser- 
vants out-of-doors, and saw his way to making a little money 
by it. Second, that he and his men and boy (with a view to 
making the said money) meant to hang about till they saw 
my lady drive home, and then to come back, and foretell Mr. 
Franklin's arrival by magic. Third, that Penelope had heard 
them rehearsing their hocus-pocus, like actors rehearsing a 
play. Fourth, that I should do well to have an eye, that 
evening, on the plate-basket. Fifth, that Penelope would do 
well to cool down, and leave me, her father, to doze ofif again 
in the sun. 

That appeared to me to be the sensible view. If you know 
any thing of the ways of young women, you won't be sur- 
prised to hear that Penelope wouldn't take it. The moral 
of the thing was serious, according to my daughter. She 
particularly reminded me of the Indian's third question : "Has 
the English gentleman got It about him?" "Oh, Father!" 
says Penelope, clasping her hands, "don't joke about this ! 
What does 'It' mean?" 

"We'll ask Mr. Franklin, my dear," I said, "if you can wait 
till Mr. Franklin comes." I winked to show I meant that 
in joke. Penelope took it quite seriously. My girl's earnest- 
ness tickled me. "What on earth should Mr. Franklin know 
about it?" I inquired. "Ask him," says Penelope. "And see 
whether he thinks it a laughing matter, too." With that part- 
ing shot my daughter left me. 

I settled it with myself, when she was gone, that I really 
would ask Mr. Franklin — mainly to set Penelope's mind at 
rest. What was said between us, when I did ask him, later 
on that same day, you will find set out fully in its proper 
place. But as I don't wish to raise your expectations and 
then disappoint them, I will take leave to warn you here — 

24 



THE MOONSTONE 

before we go any further — that you won't find the ghost of 
a joke in our conversation on the subject of the jugglers. To 
my great surprise, Mr. FrankHn, Hke Penelope, took the thing 
seriously. How seriously, you will understand, when I tell 
you that, in his opinion, "It" meant the Moonstone. 



CHAPTER IV. 



I AM truly sorry to detain you over me and my bee-hive 
chair. A sleepy old man, in a sunny back-yard, is not 
an interesting object, I am well aware. But things must be 
put down in their places, as things actually happened — and 
you must please to jog on a little while longer with me, in 
expectation of Mr. Franklin Blake's arrival later in the day. 
Before I had time to doze off again, after my daughter 
Penelope had left me, I was disturbed by a rattling of plates 
and dishes in the servants' hall, which meant that dinner 
was ready. Taking my own meals in my own sitting-room, 
I had nothing to do with the servants' dinner, except to wish 
them a good stomach to it all round, previous to composing 
myself once more in my chair. I was just stretching my legs, 
when out bounced another woman on me. Not my daugh- 
ter again ; only Nancy, the kitchen-maid, this time. I was 
straight in her way out ; and I observed, as she asked me to 
let her by, that she had a sulky face — a thing which, as head 
of the servants, I never allow, on principle, to pass me with- 
out inquiry. 

/ "What are you turning your back on your dinner for?" I 
/asked. "What's wrong now, Nancy?" 

I Nancy tried to push by without answering; upon which 
\l rose up, and took her by the ear. She is a nice, plump 
5(Oung lass, and it is customary with me to adopt that manner 
of showing that I personally approve of a girl. 
"What's wrong now ?" I said, once more. 
"Rosanna's late again for dinner," says Nancy. "And I'm 
sent to fetch her in. All the hard work falls on my shoulders 
in this house. Let me alone, Mr. Betteredge !" 

The person here mentioned as Rosanna was our second 

?5 



THE MOONSTONE 

house-maid. Having a kind of pity for our second house- 
maid — why, you shall presently know — and seeing in Nancy's 
face that she would fetch her fellow-servant in with more 
hard words than might be needful under the circumstances, 
it struck me that I had nothing particular to do, and that I 
might as well fetch Rosanna myself, giving her a hint to 
be punctual in future, which I knew she would take kindly 
from me. 

"Where is Rosanna?" I inquired. 

"At the sands, of course," says Nancy, with a toss of her 
head. "She had another of her fainting fits this morning, 
and she asked to go out and get a breath of fresh air. I 
have no patience with her." 

"Go back to your dinner, my girl," I said. "I have pa- 
tience with her, and I'll fetch her in." 

Nancy, who has a fine appetite, looked pleased. When 
she looks pleased, she looks nice. When she looks nice, I 
chuck her under the chin. It isn't immorality — it's only habit. 

Well, I took my stick, and set off for the sands. 

No ! it won't do to set off yet. I am sorry again to detain 
you ; but you really must hear the story of the sands, and 
the story of Rosanna — for this reason, that the matter of the 
Diamond touches them both nearly. How hard I try to get 
on with my statement without stopping by the way, and how 
badly I succeed ! But, there ! — Persons and Things do turn 
up so vexatiously in this life, and will in a manner insist 
on being noticed. Let us take it easy, and let us take it 
short ; we shall be in the thick of the mystery soon, I promise 
you ! 

Rosanna (to put the Person before the Thing, which is but 
common politeness) was the only new servant in our house. 
About four months before the time I am writing of my lady 
had been in London, and had gone over a Reformatory, in- 
tended to save forlorn women from drifting back into bad 
ways, after they had got released from prison. The matron, 
seeing my lady took an interest in the place, pointed out a 
girl to her, named Rosanna Spearman, and told her a most 
miserable story, which I haven't the heart to repeat here ; 
for I don't like to be made wretched without any use, and 
no more do you. The upshot of it was, that Rosanna Spear- 

?6 



THE MOONSTONE 

man had been a thief, and not being of the sort that get 
up Companies in the City, and rob from thousands, instead 
of only robbing from one, the law laid hold of her, and 
the prison and the reformatory followed the lead of the law. 
The matron's opinion of Rosanna was, in spite of what she 
had done, that the girl was one in a thousand, and that she 
only wanted a chance to prove herself worthy of any Chris- 
tian woman's interest in her. My lady, being a Christian 
woman if ever there was one yet, said to the matron upon 
that, Rosanna Spearman shall have her chance in my service. 
In a week afterward Rosanna Spearman entered this estab- 
lishment as our second house-maid. 

Not a soul was told the girl's story excepting Miss Rachel 
and me. My lady, doing me the honor to consult me about 
most things, consulted me about Rosanna. Having fallen a 
good deal latterly into the late Sir John's way of always 
agreeing with my lady, I agreed with her heartily about 
Rosanna Spearman. 

A fairer chance no girl could have had than was given to 
this poor girl of ours. None of the servants could cast her 
past life in her teeth, for none of the servants knew what it 
had been. She had her wages and her privileges, like the 
rest of them ; and every now and then a friendly word from 
my lady, in private, to encourage her. In return she showed 
herself, I am bound to say, well worthy of the kind treat- 
ment bestowed upon her. Though far from strong, and 
troubled occasionally with those fainting fits already men- 
tioned, she went about her work modestly and uncomplain- 
ingly, doing it carefully and doing it well. But somehow she 
failed to make friends among the other women-servants, ex- 
cepting my daughter Penelope, who was always kind to 
Rosanna, though never intimate with her. 

I hardly know what the girl did to ofifend them. There 
was certainly no beauty about her to make the others envious ; 
she was the plainest woman in the house, with the additional 
misfortune of having one shoulder bigger than the other. 
What the servants chiefly resented, I think, was her silent 
tongue and her solitary ways. She read or worked in leisure 
hours when the rest gossiped. And when it came to her turn 
to go out, nine times out of ten she quietly put on her bon- 

27 



THE MOONSTONE 

net, and had her turn by herself. She never quarreled, she 
never took offense ; she only kept a certain distance, obsti- 
nately and civilly, between the rest of them and herself. 
Add to this that, plain as she was, there was just a dash of 
something that wasn't like a house-maid, and that was like 
a lady, about her. It might have been in her voice, or it 
might have been in her face. All I can say is that the other 
women pounced on it like lightning the first day she came 
into the house, and said, which was most unjust, that Rosanna 
Spearman gave herself airs. 

Having now told the story of Rosanna, I have only to 
notice one out of the many queer ways of this strange girl to 
get on next to the story of the sands. 

Our house is high up on the Yorkshire coast, and close by 
the sea. We have got beautiful walks all round us, in every 
direction but one. That one I acknowledge to be a horrid 
walk. It leads, for a quarter of a mile, through a melancholy 
plantation of firs, and brings you out between low cliffs on 
the loneliest and ugliest little bay on all our coast. 

The sand-hills here run down to the sea, and end in two 
spits of rock jutting out opposite each other, till you lose 
sight of them in the water. One is called the North Spit, 
and one the South. Between the two, shifting backward and 
forward at certain seasons of the year, lies the most horrible 
quicksand on the shores of Yorkshire. At the turn of the 
tide something goes on in the unknown deeps below, which 
sets the whole face of the quicksand quivering and trembling 
in a manner most remarkable to see, and which has given 
to it, among the people in our parts, the name of The Shiver- 
ing Sand. A great bank, half a mile out, nigh the mouth 
of the bay, breaks the force of the main ocean coming in 
from the offing. Winter and summer, when the tide flows 
over the quicksand, the sea seems to leave the waves behind 
it on the bank, and rolls its waters in smoothly with a heave, 
and covers the sand in silence. A lonesome and a horrid 
retreat I can tell you ! No boat ever ventures into this bay. 
No children from our fishing-village, called Cobb's Hole, ever 
come here to play. The very birds of the air, as it seems 
to me, give the Shivering Sand a wide berth. That a young 
woman, with dozens of nice walks to choose from, and com- 

28 



THE MOONSTONE 

pany to go with her, if she only said "Come !" should prefer 
this place, and should sit and work or read in it, all alone, 
when it's her turn out, I grant you, passes belief.. It's true, 
nevertheless, account for it as you may, that this was Rosanna 
Spearman's favorite walk, except when she went once or 
twice to Cobb's Hole, to see the only friend she had in our 
neighborhood — of whom more anon. It's also true that I 
was now setting out for this same place, to fetch the girl in 
to dinner, which brings us round happily to our former point, 
and starts us fair again on our way to the sands. 

I saw no sign of the girl in the plantation. When I got. 
out, through the sand-hills, on to the beach, there she was, 
in her little straw bonnet, and her plain gray cloak that she 
always wore to hide her deformed shoulder as much as might 
be — there she was, all alone, looking out on the quicksand 
and the sea. 

She started when I came up with her, and turned her head 
away from me. Not looking me in the face being another 
of the proceedings which, as head of the servants, I never 
allow, on principle, to pass without inquiry — I turned her 
round my way, and saw that she was crying. My bandana 
handkerchief — one of six beauties given to me by my lady — 
was handy in my pocket. I took it out, and I said to Rosanna, 
"Come and sit down, my dear, on the slope of the beach along 
with me. I'll dry your eyes for you first, and then I'll make 
so bold as to ask what you have been crying about." 

When you come to my age you will find sitting down on 
the slope of a beach a much longer job than you think it 
now. By the time I was settled, Rosanna had dried her own 
eyes with a very inferior handkerchief to mine — a cheap cam- 
bric. She looked very quiet, and very wretched ; but she sat 
down by me like a good girl, when I told her. When you 
want to comfort a woman by the shortest way take her on 
your knee. I thought of the golden rule. But there ! Ro- 
sanna wasn't Nancy, and that's the truth of it ! 

"Now tell me, my dear," I said, "what are you crying 
about ?" 

"About the years that are gone, Mr. Betteredge," says 
Rosanna, quietly. "My past life still comes back to me some- 
times." 

29 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Come, come, my girl," I said, "your past life is all 
sponged out. Why can't you forget it?" 

She took me by one of the lappets of my coat. I am a 
slovenly old man, and a good deal of my meat and drink gets 
splashed about on my clothes. Sometimes one of the women, 
and sometimes another, cleans me of my grease. The day 
before Rosanna had taken out a spot for me on the lappet 
of my coat with a new composition warranted to remove any 
thing. The grease was gone, but there was a little dull place 
left on the nap of the cloth where the grease had been. The 
,girl pointed to that place and shook her head. 

"The stain is taken ofT," she said.- "But the place shows, 
Mr. Betteredge — the place shows !" 

A remark which takes a man unawares by means of his 
own coat is not an easy remark to answer. Something in 
the girl herself, too, made me particularly sorry for her just 
then. She had nice brown eyes, plain as she was in other 
ways — and she looked at me with a sort of respect for my 
happy old age and my good character, as things forever out 
of her own reach, which made my heart heavy for our second 
house-maid. Not feeling myself able to comfort her, there 
was only one thing to do. That thing was — to take her in 
to dinner. 

"Help me up," I said. "You're late for dinner, Rosanna — 
and I have come to fetch you in." 

"You, Mr. Betteredge !" says she. 

"They told Nancy to fetch you," I said. "But I thought 
you might like your scolding better, my dear, if it came 
from me." 

Instead of helping me up, the poor thing stole her hand 
into mine, and gave it a little squeeze. She tried hard to 
keep from crying again, and succeeded — for which I re- 
spected her. "You're very kind, Mr. Betteredge," she said. 
"I don't want any dinner to-day — let me bide a little longer 
here." 

"What makes you like to be here?" I asked. "What is 
it that brings you everlastingly to this miserable place ?" 

"Something draws me to it," says the girl, making images 
with her finger in the sand. "I try to keep away from it, 
and I can't. Sometimes," says she, in a low voice, as if she 

30 



THE MOONSTONE 

was frightened at her own fancy, "sometimes, Mr. Better- 
edge, I think that my grave is waiting for me here," 

"There's roast mutton and suet pudding waiting for you !" 
says I. "Go in to dinner directly. This is what comes, Ro- 
sanna, of thinking on an empty stomach !" I spoke severely, 
being naturally indignant, at my time of life, to hear a young 
woman of five-and-twenty talking about her latter end ! 

She didn't seem to hear me ; she put her hand on my 
shoulder, and kept me where I was, sitting by her side. 

"I think the place has laid a spell on me," she said, "I 
dream of it night after night ; I think of it when I sit stitching 
at my work. You know I am grateful, Mr. Betteredge — 
you know I try to deserve your kindness, and* my lady's con- 
fidence in me. But I wonder sometimes whether the life here 
is too quiet and too good for such a woman as I am, after 
all I have gone through, Mr. Betteredge — after all I have 
gone through. It's more lonely to me to be among the other 
servants, knowing I am not what they are, than it is to be 
here. My lady doesn't know, the mation at the reformatory 
doesn't know, what a dreadful reproach honest people are in 
themselves to a woman like me. Don't scold me, there's a 
dear good man. I do my work, don't I ? Please not to tell 
my lady I am discontented — I am not. My mind's unquiet, 
sometimes, that's all." She snatched her hand off my shoul- 
der, and suddenly pointed down to the quicksand. "Look !" 
she said. "Isn't it wonderful ? isn't it terrible ? I have seen 
it dozens of times, and it's always as new to me as if I had 
never seen it before !" 

I looked where she pointed. The tide was on the turn, 
and the horrid sand began to shiver. The broad brown face 
of it heaved slowly, and then dimpled and quivered all over, 
"Do you know what it looks like to me?" cays Rosanna, 
catching me by the shoulder again. "It looks as if it had 
hundreds of suffocating people under it — all struggling to 
get to the surface, and all sinking lower and lower in the 
dreadful deeps ! Throw a stone in, Mr. Betteredge ! throw 
a stone in, and let's see the sand suck it down !" 

Here was unwholesome talk ! Here was an empty stomach 
feeding on an unquiet mind ! My answer — a pretty sharp 
one, in the poor girl's own interests, I promise you ! — was at 

31 



THE MOONSTONE 

my tongue's end, when it was snapped short off on a sudden 
by a voice among the sand-hills shouting for me by my name. 
"Betteredge !" cries the voice, "where are you?" "Here!" I 
shouted out in return, without a notion in my head who it 
was. Rosanna started to her feet, and stood looking toward 
the voice. I was just thinking of getting on my own legs 
next, when I was staggered by a sudden change in the girl's 
face. 

Her complexion turned of a beautiful red, which I had 
never seen in it before ; she brightened all over with a kind 
of speechless and breathless surprise. "Who is it?" I asked. 
Rosanna gave me back my own question. "Oh! who is it?" 
she said, softly; more to herself than to me. I twisted round 
on the sand, and looked behind me. There, coming out on 
us from among the hills, was a bright-eyed young gentleman, 
dressed in a beautiful fawn-colored suit, with gloves and 
hat to match, with a rose in his button-hole, and a smile on his 
face that might have set the Shivering Sand itself smiling at 
him in return. Before I could get on my legs he plumped 
down on the sand by the side of me, put his arm round my 
neck, foreign fashion, and gave me a hug that fairly squeezed 
the breath out of my body. "Dear old Betteredge !" says he. 
"I owe you seven and sixpence. Now do you know who 
I am?" 

Lord bless us and save us ! Here — four good hours before 
we expected him — was Mr. Franklin Blake ! 

Before I could say a word I saw Mr. Franklin, a little 
surprised, to all appearance, look up from me to Rosanna. 
Following his lead, I looked at the girl too. She was blushing 
of a deeper red than ever : seemingly at having caught Mr. 
Franklin's eye, and she turned and left us suddenly, in a 
confusion quite unaccountable to my mind, without either 
making her courtesy to the gentleman or saying a word to 
me — very unlike her usual self; a civiler and better-behaved 
servant, in general, you never met with. 

"That's an odd girl," says Mr. Franklin. "I wonder what 
she sees in me to surprise her ?" 

"I suppose, sir," I answered, drolling on our young gentle- 
man's Continental education, "it's the varnish from foreign 
parts." 

32 



THE MOONSTONE 

I set down here Mr. Franklin's careless question, and my 
foolish answer, as a consolation and encouragement to all 
stupid people — it being, as I have remarked, a great satis- 
faction to our inferior fellow-creatures to find that their bet- 
ters are, on occasions, no brighter than they are. Neither Mr. 
Franklin, with his wonderful foreign training, nor I, with my 
age, experience, and natural mother-wit, had the ghost of an 
idea of what Rosanna Spearman's unaccountable behavior 
really meant. She was out of our thoughts, poor soul, before 
we had seen the last flutter of her little gray cloak among 
the sand-hills. And what of that? you will ask naturally 
enough. Read on, good friend, as patiently as you can, and 
perhaps you will be as sorry for Rosanna Spearman as I was, 
when I found out the truth. 



CHAPTER V. 



THE first thing I did, after we were left together alone, 
was to make a third attempt to get up from my seat 
on the sand. Mr. Franklin stopped me. 

"There is oi\e advantage about this horrid place," he said ; 
"we have got it all to ourselves. Stay where you are. Better- 
edge ; I have something to say to you." 

While he was speaking, I was looking at him, and trying 
to see something of the boy I remembered in the man before 
me. The man put me out. Look as I might I could see no 
more of his boy's rosy cheeks than his boy's trim little jacket. 
His complexion had got pale ; his face, at the lower part, 
was covered, to my great surprise and disappointment, with a 
curly brown beard and mustache. He had a lively touch- 
and-go way with him, very pleasant and engaging, I admit; 
but nothing to compare with his free-and-easy manners of 
other times. To make matters worse, he had promised to be 
tall, and had not kept his promise. He was neat, and slim, 
and well made ; but he wasn't by an inch or two up to the 
middle height. In short, he bafifled me altogether. The years 
that had passed had left nothing of his old self, except the 
bright, straightforward look in his eyes. There I found our 

' 33 



THE MOONSTONE 

nice boy again, and there I concluded to stop in my investi- 
gation. 

"Welcome back to the old place, Mr. Franklin," I said. 
"All the more welcome, sir, that you have come some hours 
before we expected you." 

'T have a reason for coming before you expected me," an- 
swered Mr. Franklin. "I suspect, Betteredge, that I have 
been followed and watched in London for the last three or 
four days, and I have traveled by the morning instead of 
the afternoon train because I wanted to give a certain dark- 
looking stranger the slip." 

Those words did more than surprise me. They brought 
back to my mind, in a flash, the three jugglers, and Penelope's 
notion that they meant some mischief to Mr. Franklin Blake. 

"Who's watching you, sir — and why?" I inquired. 

"Tell me about the three Indi:.ns you have had at the 
house to-day," says Mr. Franklin, without noticing my ques- 
tion. 'Tt's just possible, Betteredge, that my stranger and 
your three jugglers may turn out to be pieces of the same 
puzzle." 

"How do you come to know about the jugglers, sir?" I 
asked, putting one question on the top of another, which was 
bad manners, I own. But you don't expect much from poor 
human nature — so don't expect much from me. 

"I saw Penelope at the house," says Mr. Franklin ; "and 
Penelope told me. Your daughter promised to be a pretty 
girl, Betteredge, and she has kept her promise. Penelope 
has got a small ear and a small foot. Did the late Mrs. Bet- 
teredge possess those inestimable advantages?" 

"The late Mrs. Betteredge possessed a good many defects, 
sir," says L "One of them, if you will pardon my mentioning 
it, was never keeping to the matter in hand. She was more 
like a fly than a woman, she couldn't settle on any thing." 

"She would just have suited me," says Mr. Franklin. "I 
never settle on any thing either. Betteredge, your edge is 
better than ever. Your daughter said as much, when I asked 
for particulars about the jugglers. 'Father will tell you, sir. 
He's a wonderful man for his age ; and he expresses himself 
beautifully.' Penelope's own words — blushing divinely. Not 
even my respect for you prevented me from — never mind; 

34 



THE MOONSTONE 

I knew her when she was a child, and she's none the worse 
for it. Let's be serious. What did the jugglers do?" 

I was something dissatisfied with my daughter — not for 
letting Air. Franklin kiss her; Mr. Franklin was welcome to 
that — but for. forcing me to tell her foolish story at stcond- 
hand. However, there was no help for it now but to mention 
the circumstances. Mr. Franklin's merriment all died away 
as I went on. He sat knitting his eyebrows and twisting his 
beard. When I had done, he repeated after me two of the 
questions which the chief juggler had put to the boy — seem- 
ingly for the purpose of fixing them well in his mind. 

" 'Is it on the road to this house, and on no other, that the 
English gentleman will pass by us to-day ?' 'Has the English 
gentleman got It about him?' I suspect," says Mr. Franklin, 
pulling a little sealed paper parcel out of his pocket, "that 
'It' means this. And 'this,' Betteredge, means my uncle 
Herncastle's famous Diamond." 

"Good Lord, sir !" I broke out, "how do you come to be 
in charge of the wicked Colonel's Diamond?" 

"The wicked Colonel's will has left his Diamond as a 
birthday present to my cousin Rachel," says Mr. Franklin. 
"And my father, as the wicked Colonel's executor, has given 
it in charge to me to bring down here." 

If the sea, then oozing in smoothly over the Shivering 
Sand, had been changed into dry land before my own eyes, 
I doubt if I could have been more surprised than I was when 
Mr. Franklin spoke those words. 

"The Colonel's Diamond left to Miss Rachel !" says I. 
"And your father, sir, the Colonel's executor ! Why, I would 
have laid any bet you like, Mr. Franklin, that your father 
wouldn't have touched the Colonel with a pair of tongs !" 

"Strong language, Betteredge ! What was there against 
the Colonel? He belonged to your time, not to mine. Tell 
me what you know about him, and I'll tell you how my father 
came to be his executor, and more besides. I have made 
some discoveries in London about my uncle Herncastle and 
his Diamond, which have rather an ugly look to my eyes ; 
and I want you to confirm them. You called him the 'wicked 
Colonel' just now. Search your memory, my old friend, and 
tell me why." 

35 



THE MOONSTONE 

I saw he was in earnest, and I told him. 

Here follows the substance of what I said, written out 
entirely for your benefit. Pay attention to it, or you will be 
all abroad, when we get deeper into the story. Clear your 
mind of the children, or the dinner, or the new bonnet, or 
what not. Try if you can't forget politics, horses, prices in 
the City, and grievances at the club. I hope you won't take 
this freedom on my part amiss ; it's only a way I have of 
appealing to the gentle reader. Lord ! haven't I seen you 
with the greatest authors in your hands, and don't I know 
how ready your attention is to wander when it's a book that 
asks for it, instead of a person? 

I SPOKE, a little way back, of my lady's father, the old lord 
with the short temper and the long tongue. He had 
five children in all. Two sons to begin with ; then, after a 
long time, his wife broke out breeding again, and the three 
young ladies came briskly one after the other, as fast as the 
nature of things would permit ; my mistress, as before men- 
tioned, being the youngest and best of the three. Of the two 
sons, the eldest, Arthur, inherited the title and estates. The 
second, the Honorable John, got a fine fortune left him by 
a relative, and went into the army. 

It's an ill bird, they say, that fouls its own nest. I look 
on the noble family of the Herncastles as being my nest; 
and I shall take it as a favor if I am not expected to enter 
into particulars on the subject of the Honorable John. He 
was, I honestly believe, one of the greatest blackguards that 
ever lived. I can hardly say more or less for him than that. 
He went into the army, beginning in the Guards. He had 
to leave the Guards before he was two-and-twenty — never 
mind why. They are very strict in the army, and they were 
too strict for the Honorable John. He went out to India to 
see whether they were equally strict there, and to try a little 
active service. In the matter of bravery, to give him his due, 
he was a mixture of bull-dog and game-cock, with a dash 
of the savage. He was at the taking of Seringapatam. Soon 
afterward he changed into another regiment, and, in course 
of time, changed again into a third. In the third he 
got his last step as lieutenant-colonel, and, getting that, got 
also a sun-stroke, and came home to England. 

36 



THE MOONSTONE 

He came back with a character that closed the doors of 
all his family against him, my lady, then just married, taking 
the lead, and declaring, with Sir John's approval, of course, 
that her brother should never enter any house of hers. There 
was more than one slur on the Colonel that made people shy 
of him; but the blot of the Diamond is all I need mention 
here. 

It was said he had got possession of his Indian jewel by 
means which, bold as he was, he didn't dare acknowledge. 
He never attempted to sell it — not being in need of money, 
and not, to give him his due again, making money an object. 
He never gave it away ; he never even showed it to any living 
soul. Some said he was afraid of its getting him into a diffi- 
culty with the military authorities; others, very ignorant 
indeed of the real nature of the man, said he was afraid, if he 
showed it, of its costing him his life. 

There was perhaps a grain of truth mixed up with this 
last report. It was false to say that he was afraid ; but it 
was a fact that his life had been twice threatened in India, 
and it was firmly believed that the Diamond was at the bot- 
tom of it. When he came back to England, and found him- 
self avoided by every body, the Diamond was thought to be 
at the bottom of it again. The mystery of the Colonel's life 
got in the Colonel's way, and outlawed him, as you may say, 
among his own people. The men wouldn't let him into their 
clubs ; the women — more than one — whom he wanted to 
marry, refused him ; friends and relations got too near- 
sighted to see him in the street. 

Some men in this mess would have tried to set themselves 
right with the world. But to give in, even when he was 
wrong, and had all society against him, was not the way of 
the Honorable John. He had kept the Diamond, in flat de- 
fiance of assassination, in India. He kept the Diamond, in 
flat defiance of public opinion, in England. There you have 
the portrait of the man before you, as in a picture : a character 
that braved every thing ; and a face, handsome as it was, that 
looked possessed by the devil. 

We heard diflferent rumors about him from time to time. 
Sometimes they said he was given up to smoking opium, and 
collecting old books ; sometimes he was reported to be trying 
strange things in chemistry ; sometimes he was seen carousing 

37 



THE MOONSTONE 

and amusing himself among the lowest people in the lowest 
slums of London. Anyhow, a solitary, vicious, under-ground 
life was the life the Colonel led. Once, and once only, after 
his return to England, I myself saw him, face to face. 

About two years before the time of which I am now writ- 
ing, and about a year and a half before the time of his death, 
the Colonel came unexpectedly to my lady's house in London. 
It was the night of Miss Rachel's birthday, the twenty-first 
of June ; and there was a party in honor of it, as usual. I 
received a message from the footman to say that a gentle- 
man wanted to see me. Going up into the hall, there I found 
the Colonel, wasted, and worn, and old, and shabby, and as 
wild and as wicked as ever. 

"Go up to my sister," says he ; "and say that I have called 
to wish my niece many happy returns of the day," 

He had made attempts by letter, more than once already, 
to be reconciled with my lady, for no other purpose, I am 
firmly persuaded, than to annoy her. But this w^as the first 
time he had actually come to the house. I had it on the tip 
of my tongue to say that my mistress had a party that night. 
But the devilish look of him daunted me. I went up stairs 
with his message, and left him, by his own desire, waiting in 
the hall. The servants stood staring at him, at a distance, 
as if he was a walking engine of destruction, loaded with 
powder and shot, and likely to go ofif among them at a 
moment's notice. 

My lady has a dash — no more — of the family temper. 
"Tell Colonel Herncastle," she said, when I gave her her 
brother's message, "that Miss Verinder is engaged, and that 
/ decline to see him." I tried to plead for a civiler answer 
than that, knowing the Colonel's constitutional superiority to 
the restraints which govern gentlemen in general. Quite use- 
less ! The family temper flashed out at me directly. "When 
I want your advice," says my lady, "you know that I always 
ask for it. I don't ask for it now." I went down stairs with 
the message, of which I took the liberty of presenting a new 
and amended edition of my own contriving, as follows : "My 
lady and Miss Rachel regret that they are engaged, Colonel ; 
and beg to be excused having the honor of seeing you." 

I expected him to break out, even at that polite way of 

38 



THE MOONSTONE 

putting it. To my surprise he did nothing of the sort ; he 
alarmed me by taking the thing with an unnatural quiet. His 
eyes, of a glittering bright gray, just settled on me for a 
moment; and he laughed, not out of himself, like other peo- 
ple, but into himself, in a soft, chuckling, horridly mis- 
chievous way. "Thank you, Betteredge," he said. "I shall 
remember my niece's birthday.'" With that, he turned on 
his heel, and walked out of the house. 

The next birthday came round, and we heard he was ill 
in bed. Six months afterward — that is to say, six months 
before the time I am now writing of — there came a letter 
from a highly respectable clergyman to my lady. It com- 
municated two wonderful things in the way of family news. 
First, that the Colonel had forgiven his sister on his death- 
bed. Second, that he had forgiven every body else, and had 
made a most edifying end. I have myself, in spite of the 
bishops and the clergy, an unfeigned respect for the Church ; 
but I am firmly persuaded, at the same time, that the devil 
remained in undisturbed possession of the Honorable John, 
and that the last abominable act in the life of that abomina- 
ble man was (saving your presence) to take the clergyman in ! 

This was the sum total of what I had to tell Mr. Franklin. 
I remarked that he listened more and more eagerly the longer 
I went on. Also, that the story of the Colonel being sent 
away from his sister's door, on the occasion of his niece's 
birthday, seemed to strike Mr. Franklin like a shot that had 
hit the mark. Though he didn't acknowledge it, I saw that 
I had made him uneasy, plainly enough, in his face. 

"You have said your say, Betteredge," he remarked. "It's 
my turn now. Before, however, I tell you what discoveries 
I have made in London, and how I came to be mixed up in 
this matter of the Diamond, I want to know one thing. You 
look, my old friend, as if you didn't quite understand the 
object to be answered by this consultation of ours. Do your 
looks belie you?" 

"No, sir," I said. "My looks, on this occasion at any rate, 
tell the truth." 

"In that case," says Mr. Franklin, "suppose I put you up 
to my point of view before we go any further. I see three 

39 



THE MOONSTONE 

very serious questions involved in the Colonel's birthday- 
gift to my cousin Rachel. Follow me carefully, Betteredge; 
and count me off on your fingers, if it will help you," says 
Mr. Franklin, with a certain pleasure in showing how clear- 
headed he could be, which reminded me wonderfully of old 
times when he was a boy. "Question the first : Was the 
Colonel's Diamond the object of a conspiracy in India? 
Question the second : Has the conspiracy followed the Col- 
onel's Diamond to England ? Question the third : Did the 
Colonel know the conspiracy followed the Diamond ; and 
has he purposely left a legacy of trouble and danger to his 
sister, through the innocent medium of his sister's child? 
That is what I am driving at, Betteredge. Don't let me 
frighten you." 

It was all very well to say that, but he had frightened me. 

If he was right, here was our quiet English house sud- 
denly invaded by a devilish Indian Diamond — bringing after 
it a conspiracy of living rogues, set loose on us by the ven- 
geance of a dead man. There was our situation, as revealed 
to me in Mr. Franklin's last words ! Who ever heard the 
like of it — in the nineteenth century, mind ; in an age of prog- 
ress and in a country which rejoices in the blessings of the 
British constitution? Nobody ever heard the like of it, and, 
consequently, nobody can be expected to believe it. I shall 
go on with my story, however, in spite of that. 

When you get a sudden alarm, of the soft that I had got 
now, nine times out of ten the place you feel it in is your 
stomach. When you feel it in your stomach your attention 
wanders, and you begin to fidget. I fidgeted silently in my 
place on the sand. Mr. Franklin noticed me, contending with 
a perturbed stomach, or mind, which you please — they mean 
the same thing — and, checking himself just as he was start- 
ing with his part of the story, said to me, sharply, "What do 
you want?" 

What did I want? I didn't tell h{)n: but I'll tell you, in 
confidence. I wanted a whiff of my pipe, and a turn at Rob- 
inson Crusoe. 



40 



THE MOONSTONE 



CHAPTER VI. 



KEEPING my private sentiments to myself, I respect- 
fully requested Mr. Franklin to go on. Mr. Franklin 
replied, "Don't fidget, Betteredge," and went on. 

Our young gentleman's first words informed me that his 
discoveries, concerning the wicked Colonel and the Diamond, 
had begun with a visit which he had paid, before he came 
to us, to his father's lawyer at Hampstead. A chance word 
dropped by Mr. Franklin, when the two were alone, one day, 
after dinner, revealed that he had been charged by his father 
with a birthday present to be taken to Miss Rachel. One 
thing led to another ; and it ended in the lawyer mentioning 
what the present really was, and how the friendly connection 
between the late Colonel and Mr. Blake, Senior, had taken 
its rise. The facts here are really so extraordinary that I 
doubt if I can trust my own language to do justice to them. 
I prefer trying to report Mr. Franklin's discoveries, as nearly 
as may be, in Mr. Franklin's own words. 

"You remember the time, Betteredge," he said, "when my 
father was trying to prove his title to that unlucky Dukedom ? 
Well ! that was also the time when my uncle Herncastle re- 
turned from India. My father discovered that his brother- 
in-law was in possession of certain papers which were likely 
to be of service to him in his lawsuit. He called on the 
Colonel, on pretense of welcoming him back to England. The 
Colonel was not to be deluded in that way. 'You want some- 
thing,' he said, 'or you would never have compromised your 
reputation by calling on me.' My father saw the one chance 
for him was to show his hand : he admitted at once that he 
wanted the papers. The Colonel asked for a day to consider 
his answer. His answer came in the shape of a most extraor- 
dinary letter, which my friend the lawyer showed me. The 
Colonel began by saying that he wanted something of my 
father, and that he begged to propose an exchange of friendly 
services between them. The fortune of war, that was the 
expression he used, had placed him in possession of one of 
the largest Diamonds in the world ; and he had reason to 
believe that neither he nor his precious jewel was safe in 

41 



THE MOONSTONE 

any house, in any quarter of the globe, which they occupied 
together. Under these alarming circumstances he had deter- 
mined to place his Diamond in the keeping of another person. 
That person was not expected to run any risk. He might 
deposit the precious stone in any place especially guarded and 
set apart — like a banker's or jeweler's strong-room — for the 
safe custody of valuables of high price. His main personal 
responsibility in the matter was to be of the passive kind. • He 
was to undertake — either by himself, or by a trustworthy 
representative — to receive at a pre-arranged address, on cer- 
tain pre-arranged days in every year, a note from the Colonel, 
simply stating the fact that he was a living man at that date. 
In the event of the date passing over without the note being 
received, the Colonel's silence might be taken as a sure token 
of the Colonel's death by murder. In that case, and in no ' 
other, certain sealed instructions relating to the disposal of 
the Diamond, and deposited with it, were to be opened, and 
followed implicitly. If my father chose to accept this strange 
charge, the Colonel's papers were at his disposal in return. 
That was the letter." 

"What did your father do, sir?" I asked. 

"Do?" says Mr. Franklin. "I'll tell you what he did. He 
brought the invaluable faculty called common sense to bear 
on the Colonel's letter. The whole thing, he declared, was 
simply absurd. Somewhere in his Indian wanderings the Col- 
onel had picked up with some wretched crystal which he took 
for a diamond. As for the danger of his being murdered, 
and the precautions devised to preserve his life and his piece 
of crystal, this was the nineteenth century, and any man in 
his senses had only to apply to the police. The Colonel had 
been a notorious opium-eater for years past ; and, if the only 
way of getting at the valuable papers he possessed was by 
accepting a matter of opium as a matter of fact, my father 
was quite willing to take the ridiculous responsibility imposed 
upon him — all the more readily that it involved no trouble to 
himself. The Diamond and the sealed instructions went into 
his banker's strong-room, and the Colonel's letters, period- 
ically reporting him a living man, were received and opened 
by the lawyer, as my father's representative. No sensible 
person, in a similar position, could have viewed the matter 

42 



THE MOONSTONE 

in any other way. Nothing in this world, Betteredge, is prob- 
able unless it appeals to our own trumpery experience ; and 
we only believe in a romance when we see it in a news- 
paper." 

It was plain to me from this, that Mr. Franklin thought 
his father's notion about the Colonel hasty and wrong. 

"What is your own private opinion about the matter, sir?" 
I asked. 

"Let's finish the story of the Colonel first," says Mr. Frank- 
lin. "There is a curious want of system, Betteredge, in the 
English mind ; and your question, my old friend, is an in- 
stance of it. When we are not occupied in making machinery, 
we are, mentally speaking, the most slovenly people in the 
universe." 

"So much," I thought to myself, "for a foreign education ! 
He has learned that way of girding at us in France, I sup- 
pose." 

Mr. Franklin took up the lost thread, and went on. 

"My father," he said, "got the papers he wanted, and 
never saw his brother-in-law again, from that time. Year 
after year, on the pre-arranged days, the pre-arranged letter 
came from the Colonel, and was opened by the lawyer. I 
have seen the letters, in a heap, all of them written in the 
same brief, business-like form of words : 'Sir, — This is to 
certify that I am still a living man. Let the Diamond be. 
John Herncastle.' That was all he ever wrote, and that came 
regularly to the day ; until some six or eight months since, 
when the form of the letter varied for the first time. It ran 
now : 'Sir, — They tell me I am dying. Come to me, and 
help me to make my will.' The lawyer went, and found him. 
in the little suburban villa, surrounded by its own grounds, 
in which he had lived alone ever since he had left India. He 
had dogs, cats, and birds to keep him company ; but no human 
being near him, except the person who came daily to do the 
housework, and the doctor at the bedside. The will was a 
very simple matter. The Colonel had dissipated the greater 
part of his fortune in his chemical investigations. His will 
began and ended in three clauses, which he dictated from his 
bed, in perfect possession of his faculties. The first clause 
provided for the safe-keeping and support of his animals. 

43 



THE MOONSTONE 

The second founded a professorship of experimental chem- 
istry at a northern university. The third bequeathed the 
Moonstone as a birthday present to his niece, on condition 
that my father would act as executor. My father at first re- 
fused to act. On second thoughts, however, he gave way, 
partly because he was assured that the executorship would 
involve him in no trouble ; partly because the lawyer sug- 
gested, in Rachel's interest, that the Diamond might be worth 
something, after all." 

"Did the Colonel give any reason, sir," I inquired, "why 
he left the Diamond to Miss Rachel ?" 

"He not only gave the reason — he had the reason written 
in his will," said Mr. Franklin. "I have got an extract, 
which you shall see presently. Don't be slovenly-minded, 
Betteredge! One thing at a time. You have heard about 
the Colonel's will ; now you must hear what happened after 
the Colonel's death. It was formally necessary to have the 
Diamond valued, before the will could be proved. All the 
jewelers consulted, at once confirmed the Colonel's assertion 
that he possessed one of the largest diamonds in the world. 
The question of accurately valuing it presented some serious 
difficulties. Its size made it a phenomenon in the diamond- 
market; its color placed it in a category by itself; and, to 
add to these elements of uncertainty, there was a defect, in 
the shape of a flaw, in the very heart of the stone. Even with 
this last serious drawback, however, the lowest of the various 
estimates given was twenty thousand pounds. Conceive my 
father's astonishment ! He had been within a hair's-breadth 
of refusing to act as executor, and of allowing this magnifi- 
cent jewel to be lost to the family. The interest he took in 
the matter now induced him to open the sealed instructions 
which had been deposited with the Diamond. The lawyer 
showed this document to me, with the other papers ; and it 
suggests, to my mind, a clue to the nature of the conspiracy 
which threatened the Colonel's life." 

"Then you do believe, sir," I said, "that there w^as a con- 
spiracy?" 

"Not possessing my father's excellent common sense," an- 
swered Mr. Franklin, "I believe the Colonel's life was threat- 
ened, exactly as the Colonel said. The sealed instructions, 

44 



THE MOONSTONE 

as I think, explain how it was that he died, after all, quietly 
in his bed. In the event of his death by violence, that is to 
say, in the absence of the regular letter from him at the ap- 
pointed date, my father was then directed to send the Moon- 
stone secretly to Amsterdam. It was to be deposited in that 
city with a famous diamond-cutter, and it was to be cut up 
into from four to six separate stones. The stones were then 
to be sold for what they would fetch, and the proceeds were 
to be applied to the founding of that professorship of experi- 
mental chemistry which the Colonel has since endowed by his 
will. Now, Betteredge, exert those sharp wits of yours, and 
observe the conclusion to which the Colonel's instructions 
point !" 

I instantly exerted my wits. They were of the slovenly 
English sort ; and they consequently muddled it all until Air. 
Franklin took them in hand, and pointed out what they ought 
to see. 

"Remark," says Mr. Franklin, "that the integrity of the 
Diamond, as a whole stone, is here artfully made dependent 
on the preservation from violence of the Colonel's life. He 
is not satisfied with saying to the enemies he dreads, 'Kill 
me — and you will be no nearer to the Diamond than you are 
now ; it is where you can't get at it — in the guarded strong- 
room of a bank.' He says instead, 'Kill me — and the Dia- 
mond will be the Diamond no longer ; its identity will be 
destroyed.' What does that mean?" 

Here I had (as I thought) a flash of the wonderful foreign 
brightness. 

"I know !" I said. "It means lowering the value of the 
stone, and cheating the rogues in that way !" 

"Nothing of the sort," says Mr. Franklin. "I have in- 
quired about that. The flawed Diamond, cut up, would 
actually fetch more than the Diamond as it now is ; for this 
plain reason — that from four to six perfect brilliants might 
be cut from it, which would be, collectively, worth more 
money than the large — but imperfect — single stone. If rob- 
bery for the purpose of gain was at the bottom of the con- 
spiracy, the Colonel's instructions absolutely made the Dia- 
mond better worth stealing. More money could have been 
got for it, and the disposal of it in the diamond-market would 

45 



THE MOONSTONE 

have been infinitely easier, if it had passed through the hands 
of the workmen of Amsterdam." 

"Lord bless us, sir!" I burst out. "What was the plot 
then?" 

"A plot organized among the Indians who originally owned 
the jewel," says Mr. Franklin — "a. plot with some old Hindoo 
superstition at the bottom of it. That is my opinion, con- 
firmed by a family paper which I have about me at this 
moment." 

I saw now why the appearance of the three Indian jugglers 
at our house had presented itself to Mr. Franklin in the light 
of a circumstance worth noting. 

'T don't want to force my opinion on you," Mr. Franklin 
went on. "The idea of certain chosen servants of an old 
Hindoo superstition devoting themselves, through all diffi- 
culties and dangers, to watching the opportunity of recover- 
ing their sacred gem, appears to me to be perfectly consistent 
with every thing that we know of the patience of Oriental 
races, and the influence of Oriental religions. But then I 
am an imaginative man ; and the butcher, the baker, and the 
tax-gatherer are not the only credible realities in existence 
to my mind. Let the guess I have made at the truth in this 
matter go for what it is worth, and let us get on to the only 
practical question that concerns us. Does the conspiracy 
against the Moonstone survive the Colonel's death? And 
did the Colonel know it, when he left the birthday gift to his 
niece?" 

I began to see my lady and Miss Rachel at the end of it 
all, now. Not a word he said escaped me. 

"I was not very willing, when I discovered the story of 
the Moonstone," said Mr. Franklin, "to be the means of 
bringing it here. But my friend, the lawyer, reminded me 
that somebody must put my cousin's legacy into my cousin's 
hands — and that I might as well do it as any body else. 
After taking the Diamond out of the bank, I fancied I was 
followed in the streets by a shabby, dark-complexioned man. 
I went to my father's house to pick up my luggage, and 
found a letter there, which unexpectedly detained me in 
London. I went back to the bank with the Diamond, and 
thought I saw the shabby man again. Taking the Diamond 

46 



THE MOONSTONE 

once more out of the bank this morning, I saw the man for 
the third time, gave him the shp, and started, before he re- 
covered the trace of me, by the morning instead of the after- 
noon train. Here I am, with the Diamond safe and sound — 
and what is the first news that meets me? I find that three 
stroUing Indians have been at the house, and that my arrival 
from London, and something which I am expected to have 
about me, are two special objects of investigation to them 
when they believe themselves to be alone. I don't waste time 
and words on their pouring the ink into the boy's hand, and 
telling him to look in it for a man at a distance, and for 
something in that man's pocket. The thing, which I have 
often seen done in the East, is 'hocus-pocus' in my opinion, 
as it is in yours. The present question for us to decide is 
whether I am wrongly attaching a meaning to a mere acci- 
dent? or whether we really have evidence of the Indians 
being on the track of the Moonstone, the moment it is re- 
moved from the safe-keeping of the bank ?" 

Neither he nor I seemed to fancy dealing with this part 
of the inquiry. We looked at each other, and then we looked 
at the tide, oozing in smoothly, higher and higher, over the 
Shivering Sand. 

"What are you thinking of?" says Mr. Franklin, suddenly. 

'T was thinking, sir," I answered, "that I should like to 
shy the Diamond into the quicksand, and settle the question 
in that way." 

"If you have got the value of the stone in your pocket," 
answered Mr. Franklin, "say so, Betteredge, and in it goes !" 

It's curious to note, when your mind's anxious, how very 
far in the way of relief a very small joke will go. We found 
a fund of merriment, at the time, in the notion of making 
away with Miss Rachel's lawful property, and getting Mr. 
Blake, as executor, into dreadful trouble — though where the 
merriment was I am quite at a loss to discover now. 

Mr. Franklin was the first to bring the talk back to the 
talk's proper purpose. He took an envelope out of his pocket, 
opened it, and handed to me the paper inside, 

"Betteredge," he said, "we must face the question of the 
Colonel's motive in leaving this legacy to his niece for my 
aunt's sake. Bear in mind how Lady Verinder treated her 

47 



THE MOONSTONE 

brother from the time when he returned to England, to the 
time when he told you he should remember his niece's birth- 
day. And read that." 

He gave me the extract from the Colonel's will. I have 
got it by me while I write these words ; and I copy it, as 
follows, for your benefit : 

"Thirdly, and lastly, I give and bequeath to my niece, 
Rachel Verinder, daughter and only child of my sister, Julia 
Verinder, widow, the yellow Diamond belonging to me, and 
known in the East by the name of The Moonstone — subject 
to this condition, that her mother, the said Julia Verinder, 
shall be living at the time. And I hereby desire my executor, 
in that event, to give my Diamond, either by his own hands 
or by the hands of some trustworthy representative whom he 
shall appoint, into the personal possession of my said niece 
Rachel, on her next birthday after my death, and in the pres- 
ence of my sister, the said Julia Verinder. And furthermore, 
I desire also that my sister, as aforesaid, may be informed, by 
means of a true copy of this, the third and last clause of my 
will, that I give the Diamond to her daughter Rachel, in token 
of my free forgiveness of the injury which her conduct toward 
me has been the means of inflicting on my reputation in my 
lifetime ; and especially in proof that I pardon, as becomes a 
dying man, the insult offered to me as an officer and a gentle- 
man, when her servant, by her orders, closed the door of her 
house against me, on the occasion of her daughter's birth- 
day." 

More words followed these, providing, if my lady was 
dead, or if Miss Rachel was dead, at the time of the testa- 
tor's decease, for the Diamond being sent to Holland, in 
accordance with the sealed instructions originally deposited 
with it. The proceeds of the sale were, in that case, to be 
added to the money already left by the will for the professor- 
ship of chemistry at the university in the north. 

I handed the paper back to Mr. Franklin, sorely troubled 
what to say to him. Up to that moment my own opinion had 
been, as you know, that the Colonel had died as wickedly as 
he had lived. I don't say the copy from his will actually con- 
verted me from that opinion : I only say it staggered me. 

"Well," says Mr. Franklin, "now you have read the Col- 

48 



THE MOONSTONE 

onel's own statement, what do you say? In bringing the 
Moonstone to my aunt's house, am I serving his vengeance 
bhndfold, or am I vindicating him in the character of a peni- 
tent and Christian man?" 

"It seems hard to say, sir," I answered, "that he died with 
a horrid revenge in his heart, and a horrid He on his Ups. 
God alone knows the truth. Don't ask me." 

Mr. Frankhn sat twisting and turning the extract from the 
will in his fingers, as if he expected to squeeze the truth out 
of it in that manner. He altered quite remarkably at the 
same time. From being brisk and bright, he now became, 
most unaccountably, a slow, solemn, and pondering young 
man. 

"This question has two sides," he said. "An objective side 
and a subjective side. Which are we to take?" 

He had had a German education as well as a French. One 
of the two had been in undisturbed possession of him, as I 
supposed, up to this time. And now, as well as I could make 
out, the other was taking its place. It is one of my rules in 
life never to notice what I don't understand. I steered a mid- 
dle course between the objective side and the subjective side. 
In plain English, I stared hard and said nothing. 

"Let's extract the inner meaning of this," says Mr. Frank- 
lin. "Why did my uncle leave the Diamond to Rachel? Why 
didn't he leave it to my aunt?" 

"That's not beyond guessing, sir, at any rate," I said. 
"Colonel Herncastle knew my lady well enough to know that 
she would refuse to accept any legacy that came to her from 
him." 

"How did he know that Rachel might not refuse to accept 
it, too?" 

"Is there any young lady in existence, sir, who could resist 
the temptation of accepting such a birthday present as The 
Moonstone ?" 

"That's the subjective view," says Mr. Franklin. "It does 
you great credit, Betteredge, to be able to take the subjective 
view. But there's another mystery about the Colonel's legacy 
which is not accounted for yet. How are we to explain 
his only giving Rachel her birthday present conditionally on 
her mother being alive?" 

49 



THE MOONSTONE 

"I don't want to slander a dead man, sir," I answered. 
"But if he has purposely left a legacy of trouble and danger 
to his sister, by the means of her child, it must be a legacy 
made conditional on his sister's being alive to feel the vexa- 
tion of it." 

"Oh ! That's your interpretation of his motive, is it ? The 
subjective interpretation again ! Have you ever been in Ger- 
many, Betteredge?" 

"No, sir. What's your interpretation, if you please?" 

"I can see," says Mr. Franklin, "that the Colonel's object 
may, quite possibly, have been — not to benefit his niece, whom 
he had never even seen — but to prove to his sister that he 
had died forgiving her, and to prove it very prettily by means 
of a present made to her child. There is a totally different 
explanation from yours, Betteredge, taking its rise in a sub- 
jective-objective point of view. From all I can see, one inter- 
pretation is just as likely to be right as the other." 

Having brought matters to this pleasant and comforting 
issue, Mr. Franklin appeared to think that he had completed 
all that was required of him. He laid down flat on his back 
on the sand, and asked what was to be done next. 

He had been so clever and clear-headed, before he began 
to talk the foreign gibberish, and had so completely taken 
the lead in the business up to the present time, that I was 
quite unprepared for such a sudden change as he now exhib- 
ited in this helpless leaning upon me. It was not till later 
that I learned — by assistance of Miss Rachel, who was the 
first to make the discovery — that these puzzling shifts and 
transformations in Mr. Franklin were due to the effect on 
him of his foreign training. At the age when we are all of 
us most apt to take our coloring, in the form of a reflection 
from the coloring of other people, he had been sent abroad, 
and had been passed on, from one nation to another, before 
there was time for any one coloring more than another to 
settle itself on him firmly. As a consequence of this, he had 
come back with so many different sides to his character, 
all more or less unfinished, and all more or less jarring with 
each other, that he seemed to pass his life in a state of per- 
petual contradiction with himself. He could be a busy man, 
and a lazy man ; cloudy in the head, and clear in the head ; 

5° 



THE MOONSTONE 

a model of determination, and a spectacle of helplessness, all 
together. He had his French side, and his German side, and 
his Italian side — the original English foundation showing 
through, every now and then, as much as to say, "Here I am, 
sorely transmogrified, as you see, but there's something of 
me left at the bottom of him still." Miss Rachel used to re- 
mark that the Italian side of him was uppermost on those 
occasions when he unexpectedly gave in and asked you, in his 
nice, sweet-tempered way, to take his own responsibilities on 
your shoulders. You will do him no injustice, I think, if you 
conclude that the Italian side of him was uppermost now. 

"Isn't it your business, sir," I asked, "to know what to do 
next? Surely it can't be mine!" 

Mr. Franklin did not appear to see the force of my ques- 
tion — not being in a position at the time to see any thing but. 
the sky over his head. 

"I don't want to alarm my aunt without reason," he said. 
"And I don't want to leave her without what may be a need- 
ful warning. If you were in my place, Betteredge, tell me, 
in one word, what would you do ?" 

In one word I told him, "Wait." 

"With all my heart," says Mr. Franklin. "How long?" 

I proceeded to explain myself. 

"As I understand it, sir." I said, "somebody is bound to 
put this plaguey Diamond into Miss Rachel's hands on her 
birthday — and you may as well do it as another. Very good. 
This is the twenty-fifth of May, and the birthday is on the 
twenty-first of June. We have got close on four weeks before 
us. Let's wait and see what happens in that time ; and let's 
warn my lady or not, as the circumstances direct us." 

"Perfect, Betteredge, as far as it goes !" says ]\Ir. Franklin. 
"But, between this and the birthday, what's to be done with 
the Diamond ?" 

"What your father did with it, to be sure, sir !" I answered. 
"Your father put it in the safe-keeping of a bank in London. 
You put it in the safe-keeping of the bank at Frizinghall." 
Frizinghall was our nearest town, and the Bank of England 
wasn't safer than the bank there. "If I were you, sir," I 
added, "I would ride straight away with it to Frizinghall be- 
fore the ladies come back." 

51 



THE MOONSTONE 

The prospect of doing something — and, what is more, of 
doing that something on a horse — brought Mr. Franklin up 
like lightning from the flat of his back. He sprang to his 
feet, and pulled me up, without ceremony, on to mine. "Bet- 
teredge, you are worth your weight in gold," he said. "Come 
along, and saddle the best horse in the stables directly !" 

Here, God bless it, was the original English foundation 
of him showing through all the foreign varnish at last ! Here 
was the Master Franklin I remembered, coming out again in 
the good old way at the prospect of a ride, and reminding me 
of the good old times ! Saddle a horse for him ! I would 
have saddled a dozen horses if he could only have ridden 
them all ! 

We went back to the house in a hurry ; we had the fleetest 
horse in the stables saddled in a hurry ; and Mr. Franklin 
rattled off in a hurry, to lodge the cursed Diamond once more 
in the strong-room of a bank. When I heard the last of his 
horse's hoofs on the drive, and when I turned about in the 
yard and found I was alone again, I felt half inclined to ask 
myself if I hadn't waked up from a dream. 



CHAPTER VH. 

WHILE I was in this bewildered frame of mind, sorely 
needing a little quiet time by myself to put me right 
again, my daughter Penelope got in my way, just as her late 
mother used to get in my way on the stairs, and instantly 
summoned me to tell her all that had passed at the conference 
between Mr. Franklin and me. Under present circumstances, 
the one thing to be done was to clap the extinguisher upon 
Penelope's curiosity on the spot. I accordingly replied that 
Mr. Franklin and I had both talked of foreign politics till we 
could talk no longer, and had then mutually fallen asleep in 
the heat of the sun. Try that sort of answer when your wife 
or your daughter next worries you with an awkward ques- 
tion at an awkward time, and depend on the natural sweet- 
ness of women for kissing and making it up again at the next 
opportunity. 

52 



THE MOONSTONE 

The afternoon wore on, and my lady and ]\Iiss Rachel 
came back. 

Needless to say how astonished they were when they heard 
that Mr. Franklin Blake had arrived, and had gone off again 
on horseback. Needless also to say, that they asked awkward 
questions directly, and that the "foreign politics" and the 
"falling asleep in the sun" wouldn't serve a second time over 
with them. Being at the end of my invention, I said Mr. 
Franklin's arrival by the early train was entirely attributable 
to one of Mr. Franklin's freaks. Being asked, upon that, 
whether his galloping off again on horseback was another of 
Mr. Franklin's freaks, I said, "Yes, it was" ; and slipped out 
of it — I think very cleverly — in that way. 

Having got over my difficulties with the ladies, I found 
more difficulties waiting for me when I went back to my own 
room. In came Penelope — with the natural sweetness of 
women — to kiss and make it up again ; and — with the natural 
curiosity of women — to ask another question. This time, she 
only wanted me to tell her what was the matter with our 
second house-maid, Rosanna Spearman. 

After leaving Mr. Franklin and me at the Shivering Sand, 
Rosanna, it appeared, had returned to the house in a very 
unaccountable state of mind. She had turned, if Penelope 
was to be believed, all the colors of the rainbow. She had 
been merry without reason, and sad without reason. In one 
breath she had asked hundreds of questions about Mr. Frank- 
lin Blake, and in another breath she had been angry with 
Penelope for presuming to suppose that a strange gentleman 
could possess any interest for her. She had been surprised 
smiling and scribbling Mr. Franklin's name inside her work- 
box. She had been surprised again crying and looking at 
her deformed shoulder in the glass. Had she and Mr. Frank- 
lin known any thing of each other before to-day? Quite im- 
possible! Had they heard any thing of each other? Impos- 
sible again ! I could speak to Mr. Franklin's astonishment as 
genuine, when he saw how the girl stared at him. Penelope 
could speak to the girl's inquisitiveness as genuine, when she 
asked the questions about Mr. Franklin. The conference be- 
tween us. conducted in this way, was tiresome enough, until 
my daughter suddenly ended it by bursting out with what I 

53 



THE MOONSTONE 

thought the most monstrous supposition I had ever heard in 
my hfe. 

"Father!" says Penelope, quite seriously, "there's only one 
explanation of it. Rosanna had fallen in love with Mr. 
Franklin Blake at first sight !" 

You have heard of beautiful young ladies falling in love 
at first sight, and have thought it natural enough. But a 
house-maid out of a Reformatory, with a plain face and a 
deformed shoulder, falling in love, at first sight, with a gentle- 
man who comes on a visit to her mistress's house, match me 
that, in the way of an absurdity, out of any story-book in 
Christendom, if you can ! I laughed till the tears rolled down 
my cheeks. Penelope resented my merriment in rather a 
strange way. "I never knew you cruel before, father," she 
said, very gently, and went out. 

My girl's words fell on me like a splash of cold water. I 
was savage with myself, for feeling uneasy in myself the 
moment she had spoken them — but so it was. We will change 
the subject, if you please. I am sorry I drifted into writing 
about it, and not without reason, as you will see when we 
have gone on together a little longer. 

The evening came, and the dressing-bell for dinner rang, 
before Mr. Franklin returned from Frizinghall. I took his 
hot water up to his room myself, expecting to hear, after this 
extraordinary delay, that something had happened. To my 
great disappointment, and no doubt to yours also, nothing 
had happened. He had not met with the Indians, either going 
or returning. He had deposited the Moonstone in the bank 
— describing it merely as a valuable of great price — and he 
had got the receipt for it safe in his pocket. I went down 
stairs, feeling that this was rather a flat ending, after all our 
excitement about the Diamond earlier in the day. 

How the meeting between Mr. Franklin and his aunt and 
cousin went ofif is more than I can tell you. 

I would have given something to have waited at table 
that day. But in my position in the household, waiting at 
dinner, except on high family festivals, was letting down my 
dignity in the eyes of the other servants — a thing which my 
lady considered me quite prone enough to do already with- 

54 



THE MOONSTONE 

out seeking occasions for it. The news brought to me from 
the upper regions that evening came from Penelope and the 
footman. Penelope mentioned that she had never known 
Miss Rachel so particular about the dressing of her hair, and 
had never seen her look so bright and pretty as she did when 
she went down to meet Mr. Franklin in the drawing-room. 
The footman's report was, that the preservation of a respect- 
ful composure in the presence of his betters, and the waiting 
on Mr. Franklin Blake at dinner, were two of the hardest 
things to reconcile with each other that had ever tried his 
training in service. Later in the evening we heard them sing- 
ing and playing duets, Mr. Franklin piping high, Miss Rachel 
piping higher, and my lady, on the piano, following them, as 
it were, over hedge and ditch, and seeing them safe through 
in a manner most wonderful and pleasant to hear through 
the open windows, on the terrace at night. Later still, I went 
to Mr. Franklin in the smoking-room, with the soda-water 
and brandy, and found that Miss Rachel had put the Dia- 
mond clean out of his head. "She's the most charming girl 
I have seen since I came back to England !" was all I could 
extract from him, when I endeavored to lead the conversation 
to more serious things. 

Toward midnight I went round the house to lock up, 
accompanied by my second in command, Samuel, the foot- 
man, as usual. When all doors were made fast, except the 
side-door that opened on the terrace, I sent Samuel to bed, 
and stepped out for a breath of fresh air before I too went 
to bed in my turn. 

The night was still and close, and the moon was at the full 
in the heavens. It was so silent out-of-doors, that I heard 
from time to time, very faint and low, the fall of the sea, as 
the ground-swell heaved it in on the sand-bank near the 
mouth of our little bay. As the house stood, the terrace side 
was the dark side; but the broad moonlight showed fair on 
the gravel-walk that ran along the next side to the terrace. 
Looking this way, after looking up at the sky, I saw the 
shadow of a person in the moonlight thrown forward from 
behind the corner of the house. 

Being old and sly, I forbore to call out ; but being also, 
unfortunately, old and heavy, my feet betrayed me on the 

55 



THE MOONSTONE 

gravel. Before I could steal suddenly round the corner, as I 
had proposed, I heard lighter feet than mine — and more than 
one pair of them, as 1 thought — retreating in a hurry. By 
the time I had got to the corner, the trespassers, whoever 
they were, had run into the shrubbery at the off-side of the 
walk, and were hidden from sight among the thick trees and 
bushes in that part of the grounds. From the shrubbery 
they could easily make their way over our fence into the 
road. If I had been forty years younger I might have had 
a chance of catching them before they got clear of our prem- 
ises. As it was, I went back to set agoing a younger pair of 
legs than mine. Without disturbing any body, Samuel and I 
got a couple of guns and went all round the house and through 
the shrubbery. Having made sure that no persons were lurk- 
ing about anywhere in our grounds, we turned back. Passing 
over the walk where I had seen the shadow, I now noticed, 
for the first time, a little bright object, lying on the clean 
gravel, under the light of the moon. Picking the object up, 
I discovered that it was a small bottle, containing a thick, 
sweet-smelling liquor, as black as ink. 

I said nothing to Samuel. But, remembering what Penel- 
ope had told me about the jugglers, and the pouring of the 
little pool of ink into the palm of the boy's hand, I instantly 
suspected that I had disturbed the three Indians, lurking 
about the house, and bent, in their heathenish way, on dis- 
covering the whereabouts of the Diamond that night. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

HERE, for one moment, I find it necessary to call a halt. 
On summoning up my own recollections — and on get- 
ting Penelope to help me, by consulting her journal — I find 
that we may pass pretty rapidly over the interval between 
Mr. Franklin Blake's arrival and Miss Rachel's birthday. For 
the greater part of that time the days passed and brought 
nothing with them worth recording. With your good leave 
then, and with Penelope's help, I shall notice certain dates 
only in this place, reserving to myself to tell the story day 

56 



THE MOONSTONE 

by day, once more, as soon as we get to the time when the 
business of the Moonstone became the chief business of every 
body in our house. 

This said, we may now go on again — beginning, of course, 
with the bottle of sweet-smelhng ink which I found on the 
gravel-walk at night. 

On the next morning, the morning of the twenty-sixth, I 
showed Mr. Franklin this article of jugglery, and told him 
what I have already told you. His opinion was, not only 
that the Indians had been lurking about after the Diamond, 
but also that they were actually foolish enough to believe 
in their own magic — meaning thereby the making of signs 
on a boy's head, and the pouring of ink into a boy's hand, 
and then expecting him to see persons and things beyond 
the reach of human vision. In our country, as well as in 
the East, Mr. Franklin informed me, there are people who 
practice this curious hocus-pocus, without the ink, however; 
and who call it by a French name, signifying something like 
brightness of sight. "Depend upon it," says Mr. Franklin, 
"the Indians took it for granted that we should keep the Dia- 
mond here ; and they brought their clairvoyant boy to show 
them the way to it, if they succeeded in getting into the house 
last night." 

"Do you think they'll try again, sir?" I asked. 

"It depends," says Mr. Franklin, "on what the boy can 
really do. If he can see the Diamond through the iron safe 
of the bank at Frizinghall, we shall be troubled with no more 
visits from the Indians for the present. If he can't, we shall 
have another chance of catching them in the shrubbery before 
many more nights are over our heads." 

I waited pretty confidently for that latter chance; but, 
strange to relate, it never came. 

Whether the jugglers heard, in the town, of Mr. Franklin 
having been seen at the bank, and drew their conclusions 
accordingly ; or whether the boy really did see the Diamond 
where the Diamond was now lodged, which I, for one, flatly 
disbelieve; or whether, after all, it was a mere effect of 
chance, this, at any rate, is the plain truth — not the ghost 
of an Indian came near the house again, through the weeks 
that passed before Miss Rachel's birthday. The jugglers re- 

57 



THE MOONSTONE 

mained in and about the town plying their trade and Mr. 
FrankHn and I remained waiting to see what might happen, 
and resolute not to put the rogues on their guard by showing 
our suspicions of them too soon. With this report of the 
proceedings on either side, ends all that I have to say about 
the Indians for the present. 

On the twenty-ninth of the month. Miss Rachel and Mr. 
Franklin hit on a new method of working their way together 
through the time which might otherwise have hung heavy 
on their hands. There are reasons for taking particular 
notice here of the occupation that amused them. You will 
find it has a bearing on something that is still to come. 

Gentlefolks in general have a very awkward rock ahead 
in life — the rock ahead of their own idleness. Their lives 
being, for the most part, passed in looking about them for 
something to do, it is curious to see — especially when their 
tastes are of what is called the intellectual sort — how often 
they drift blindfold into some nasty pursuit. Nine times out 
of ten they take to torturing something, or to spoiling some- 
thing ; and they firmly believe they are improving their minds, 
when the plain truth is, they are only making a mess in the 
house. I have seen them, ladies, I am sorry to say, as well 
as gentlemen, go out, day after day, for example, with empty 
pill-boxes, and catch newts, and beetles, and spiders, and 
frogs, and come home and stick pins through the miserable 
wretches, or cut them up, without a pang of remorse, into 
little pieces. You see my young master, or my young mis- 
tress, poring over one of their spiders' insides with a mag- 
nifying-glass ; or you meet one of their frogs walking down 
stairs without his head ; and when you wonder what this 
cruel nastiness means, you are told that it means a taste in 
my young master or my young mistress for natural history. 
Sometimes, again, you see them occupied for hours together 
in spoiling a pretty flower with pointed instruments, out of a 
stupid curiosity to know what the flower is made of. Is its 
color any prettier, or its scent any sweeter, when you do 
know ? But there ! the poor souls must get through the time, 
you see — they must get through the time. You dabbled in 
nasty mud, and made pies, when you were a child ; and you 

58 



THE MOONSTONE 

dabble in nasty science, and dissect spiders, and spoil flowers, 
when you grow up. In the one case and in the other the 
secret of it is that you have got nothing to think of in your 
poor empty head, and nothing to do with your poor idle 
hands. And so it ends in your spoiling canvas with paints, 
and making a smell in the house; or in keeping tadpoles in 
a glass box full of dirty water, and turning every body's stom- 
ach in the house ; or in chipping off bits of stone here, there, 
and everywhere, and dropping grit into all the victuals in the 
house; or in staining your fingers in the pursuit of photog- 
raphy, and doing justice without mercy on every body's face 
in the house. It often falls heavy enough, no doubt, on people 
who are really obliged to get their living, to be forced to 
work for the clothes that cover them, the roof that shelters 
them, and the food that keeps them going. But compare the 
hardest day's work you ever did with the idleness that splits 
flowers and pokes its way into spiders' stomachs, and thank 
your stars that your head has got something it must think of, 
and your hands something that they nnisf do. 

As for Mr. Franklin and Miss Rachel, they tortured noth- 
ing, I am glad to say. They simply confined themselves to 
making a mess ; and all they spoiled, to do them justice, was 
the paneling of a door. 

Mr. Franklin's universal genius, dabbling in every thing, 
dabbled in what he called "decorative painting." He had 
invented, he informed us, a new mixture to moisten paint 
with, which he described as a "vehicle." What it was made 
of I don't know. What it did I can tell you in two words — 
it stank. Miss Rachel being wild to try her hand at the new 
process, Mr. Franklin sent to London for the materials ; mixed 
them up, with accompaniment of a smell which made the 
very dogs sneeze when they came into the room ; put an 
apron and a bib over Miss Rachel's gown, and set her to work 
decorating her own little sitting-room — called, for want of 
English to name it in, her "boudoir." They began with the 
inside of the door. ]\Ir. Franklin scraped ofif all the nice 
varnish with pumice-stone, and made what he described as a 
surface to work on. Miss Rachel then covered the surface, 
under his directions and with his help, with patterns and 
devices — griffins, birds, flowers, cupids, and such like — copied 

59 



THE MOONSTONE 

from designs made by a famous Italian painter, whose name 
escapes me — the one, I mean, who stocked the world with 
Virgin Marys and had a sweetheart at the baker's. Viewed 
as work, this decoration was slow to do and dirty to deal 
with. But our young lady and gentleman never seemed to 
tire of it. When they were not riding, or seeing company, 
or taking their meals, or piping their songs, there they were 
with their heads together as busy as bees, spoiling the door. 
Who was the poet who said that Satan finds some mischief 
still for idle hands to do? If he had occupied my place in 
the family, and had seen Miss Rachel with her brush, and 
Mr. Franklin with his vehicle, he could have written nothing 
truer of either of them than that. 

The next date worthy of notice is Sunday, the fourth of 
June. 

On that evening we, in the servants' hall, debated a domes- 
tic question for the first time, which, like the decoration of 
the door, has its bearing on something that is still to come. 

Seeing the pleasure wdiich Mr. Franklin and Miss Rachel 
took in each other's society, and noting what a pretty match 
they were in all personal respects, we naturally speculated on 
the chance of their putting their heads together with other 
objects in view besides the ornamenting of a door. Some of 
us said there would be a wedding in the house before the 
summer was over. Others, led by me, admitted it was likely 
enough Miss Rachel might be married ; but we doubted, for 
reasons which will presently appear, whether her bridegroom 
would be Mr. Franklin Blake. 

That Air. Franklin was in love, on his side, nobody who 
saw and heard him could doubt. The difficulty was to fathom 
Miss Rachel. Let me do myself the honor of making you 
acquainted with her ; after which I will leave you to fathom 
her yourself — if you can. 

My young lady's eighteenth birthday was the birthday now 
coming, on the twenty-first of June. If you happen to like 
dark women, who, I am informed, have gone out of fashion 
latterly in the gay world, and if you have no particular preju- 
dice in favor of size, I answer for Miss Rachel as one of the 
prettiest girls your eyes ever looked on. She was small and 
slim, but all in fine proportion from top to toe. To see her 

60 



THE MOONSTONE 

sit down, to see her get up, and especially to see her walk, 
was enough to satisfy any man in his senses that the graces 
of her figure, if you will pardon me the expression, were in 
her flesh, and not in her clothes. Her hair was the blackest 
I ever saw. Her eyes matched her hair. Her nose was not 
quite large enough, I admit. Her mouth and chin were, to 
quote Mr. Franklin, morsels for the gods ; and her complex- 
ion, on the same undeniable authority, was as warm as the 
sun itself, with this great advantage over the sun, that it was 
always in nice order to look at. Add to the foregoing that 
she carried her head as upright as a dart, in a dashing, 
spirited, thorough-bred way, that she had a clear voice, with 
a ring of the right metal in it, and a smile that began very 
prettily in her eyes before it got to her lips — and there behold 
the portrait of her, to the best of my painting, as large as 
hfe! 

And what about her disposition next? Had this charming 
creature no faults? She had just as many faults as you have, 
ma'am — neither more nor less. 

To put it seriously, my dear, pretty Miss Rachel, possess- 
ing a host of graces and attractions, had one defect, which 
strict impartiality compels me to acknowledge. She was un- 
like most other girls of her age in this — that she had ideas 
of her own, and was stifif-necked enough to set the fashions 
themselves at defiance, if the fashions didn't suit her views. 
In trifles, this independence of hers was all well enough; but 
in matters of importance it carried her, as my lady thought, 
and as I thought, too far. She judged for herself, as few 
women of twice her age judge in general; never asked your 
advice ; never told you beforehand what she was going to 
do ; never came with secrets and confidences to any body, 
from her mother downward. In little things and great, with 
people she loved and with people she hated — and she did both 
with equal heartiness — Miss Rachel always went on a way 
of her own, sufficient for herself in the joys and the sorrows 
of her life. Over and over again I have heard my lady say, 
"Rachel's best friend and Rachel's worst enemy are, one and 
the other — Rachel herself." 

Add one thing more to this, and I have done. 

With all her secrecy, and all her self-will, there was not 

6i 



THE MOONSTONE 

so much as the shadow of any thing false in her. I never 
remember her breaking her word ; I never remember her 
saying "No," and meaning "Yes." I can call to mind, in 
her childhood, more than one occasion when the good lit*v!e 
soul took the blame, and suffered the punishment, for some 
fault committed by a playfellow whom she loved. Nobody 
ever knew her to confess to it when the thing was found out, 
and she was .charged with it afterward. But nobody ever 
knew her to lie about it, either. She looked you straight in 
the face and shook her little saucy head, and said, plainly, 
"I won't tell you !" Punished again for this, she would own 
to being sorry for saying "won't" ; but, bread-and-water not- 
withstanding, she never told you. Self-willed — devilish self- 
willed sometimes — I grant ; but the finest creature, neverthe- 
less, that ever walked the ways of this lower world. Perhaps 
you think you see a certain contradiction here ? In that case, 
a word in your ear. Study your wife closely for the next 
four-and-twenty hours. If your good lady doesn't exhibit 
something in the shape of a contradiction in that time, Heaven 
help you ! — you have married a monster. 

I HAVE now brought you acquainted with Miss Rachel, which 
you will find puts us face to face, next, with the question of 
that young lady's matrimonial views. 

On June the twelfth, an invitation from my mistress was 
sent to a gentleman in London, to come and help to keep 
Miss Rachel's birthday. This was the fortunate individual 
on whom I believed her heart to be privately set ! Like Mr. 
Franklin, he was a cousin of hers. His name was Mr. God- 
frey Ablewhite. 

My lady's second sister — don't be alarmed ; we are not 
going very deep into family matters this time — my lady's 
second sister, I say, had a disappointment in love ; and taking 
a husband afterward, on the neck or nothing principle, made 
what they call a misalliance. There was terrible work in the 
family when the Honorable Caroline insisted on marrying 
plain Mr. Ablewhite, the banker at Frizinghall. He was 
very rich and very good-tempered, and he begot a prodigious 
large family — all in his favor, so far. But he had presumed 
to raise himself from a low station in the world — and that 

63 



THE MOONSTONE 

was against him. However, time and the progress of modern 
enlightenment put things right ; and the misalliance passed 
muster very well. We are all getting liberal now ; and, pro- 
vided you can scratch me, if I scratch you, what do I care, 
in or out of Parliament, whether you are a Dustman or a 
Duke? That's the modern way of looking at it — and I keep 
up with the modern way. The Ablewhites lived in a fine 
house and grounds, a little out of Frizinghall. Very worthy 
people, and greatly respected in the neighborhood. We shall 
not be much troubled with them in these pages — excepting 
Mr. Godfrey, who was Mr. Ablewhite's second son, and who 
must take his proper place here, if you please, for Miss 
Rachel's sake. 

With all his brightness and cleverness and general good 
qualities, Mr. Franklin's chance of topping Mr. Godfrey in 
our young lady's estimation was, in my opinion, a very poor 
chance indeed. 

In the first place, Mr. Godfrey was, in point of size, the 
finest man by far of the two. He stood over six feet high ; 
he had a beautiful red and white color ; a smooth round face, 
shaved as bare as your hand ; and a head of lovely long flaxen 
hair, falling negligently over the poll of his neck. But why 
do I try to give you this personal description of him ? If you 
ever subscribed to a Ladies' Charity in London, you know 
Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite as well as I do. He was a barrister 
by profession ; a ladies' man by temperament ; and a good 
Samaritan by choice. Female benevolence and female desti- 
tution could do nothing without him. Maternal societies for 
confining poor women ; Magdalen societies for rescuing poor 
women ; strong-minded societies for putting poor women into 
poor men's places, and leaving the men to shift for themselves 
— he was vice-president, manager, referee to them all. 
Wherever there was a table with a committee of ladies sit- 
ting round it in council, there was Mr. Godfrey at the bottom 
of the board, keeping the temper of the committee and leading 
the dear creatures along the thorny ways of business, hat in 
hand. I do suppose this was the most accomplished philan- 
thropist, on a small independence, that England ever pro- 
duced. As a speaker at charitable meetings the like of him 
for drawing your tears and your money was not easy to find. 

63 



THE MOONSTONE 

He was quite a public character. The last time I was in 
London my mistress gave me two treats. She sent me to 
the theatre to see a dancing woman who was all the rage; 
and she sent me to Exeter Hall to hear Mr. Godfrey. The 
lady did it with a band of music. The gentleman did it with 
a handkerchief and a glass of water. Crowds at the perform- 
ance with the legs. Ditto at the performance with the tongue. 
And with all this the sweetest-tempered person — I allude to 
Mr. Godfrey — the simplest and pleasantest and easiest to 
please, you ever met with. He loved every body. And every 
body loved him. What chance had Mr. Franklin — what 
chance had any body of average reputation and capacities — 
against such a man as this? 

On the fourteenth came Mr. Godfrey's answer. 

He accepted my mistress's invitation, from the Wednesday 
of the birthday to the evening of Friday — when his duties 
to the Ladies' Charities would oblige him to return to town. 
He also inclosed a copy of verses on what he elegantly called 
his cousin's "natal day." Miss Rachel, I was informed, joined 
Mr. Franklin in making fun of the verses at dinner : and 
Penelope, who was all on Mr. Franklin's side, asked me, in 
great triumph, what I thought of that. "Miss Rachel has 
led yoii off on a false scent, my dear," I replied ; "but my 
nose is not so easily mystified. Wait till Mr. Ablewhite's 
verses are followed by Mr. Ablewhite himself." 

My daughter replied, that Mr. Franklin might strike in 
and try his luck, before the verses were followed by the poet. 
In favor of this view, I must acknowledge that Mr. Franklin 
left no chance untried of winning Miss Rachel's good graces. 

Though one of the most inveterate smokers I ever met 
with, he gave up his cigar because she said, one day, she 
hated the stale smell of it in his clothes. He slept so badly, 
after this effort of self-denial, for want of the composing 
effect of the tobacco to which he was used, and came down 
morning after morning looking so haggard and worn, that 
Miss Rachel herself begged him to take to his cigars again. 
No ! he would take to nothing again that would cause her a 
moment's annoyance ; he would fight it out resolutely, and 
get back his sleep, sooner or later, by main force of patience 

64 



THE MOONSTONE 

in waiting for it. Such devotion as this, you may say, as 
some of them said down stairs, could never fail of producing 
the right effect on Miss Rachel — backed up, too, as it was, 
by the decorating work every day on the door. All very well 
— but she had a photograph of Mr. Godfrey in her bedroom ; 
represented speaking at a public meeting, with all his hair 
blown out by the breath of his own eloquence, and his eyes, 
most lovely, charming the money out of your pockets ! What 
do you say to that? Every morning, as Penelope herself 
owned to me, there was the man whom women couldn't do 
without, looking on, in effigy, while Miss Rachel was having 
her hair combed. He would be looking on, in reality, before 
long — that was my opinion of it. 

June the sixteenth brought an event which made Mr. Frank- 
lin's chance look, to my mind, a worse chance than ever. 

A strange gentleman, speaking English with a foreign 
accent, came that morning to the house and asked to see Mr. 
Franklin Blake on business. The business could not possibly 
have been connected with the Diamond, for these two reasons 
— first, that Mr. Franklin told me nothing about it ; secondly, 
that he communicated it, after the strange gentleman had 
gone away again, to my lady. She probably hinted some- 
thing about it next to her daughter. At any rate. Miss Rachel 
was reported to have said some severe things to Mr. Frank- 
lin, at the piano that evening, about the people he had lived 
among, and the principles he had adopted in foreign parts. 
The next day, for the first time, nothing was done toward 
the decoration of the door. I suspect some imprudence of 
Mr. Franklin's on the Continent — with a woman or a debt 
at the bottom of it — had followed him to England. But that 
is all guess-work. In this case, not only Mr. Franklin, but 
my lady, too, for a wonder, left me in the dark. 

On the seventeenth, to all appearance, the cloud passed 
away again. They returned to their decorating work on the 
door, and seemed to be as good friends as ever. If Penelope 
was to be believed, Mr. Franklin had seized the opportunity 
of the reconciliation to make an offer to Miss Rachel, and had 
neither been accepted nor refused. My girl was sure, from 

65 



THE MOONSTONE 

signs and tokens which I need not trouble you with, that 
her young mistress had fought Mr. FrankUn off by declining 
to believe that he was in earnest, and had then secretly, regret- 
ted treating him in that way afterward. Though Penelope 
was admitted to more familiarity with her young mistress 
than maids generally are — for the two had been almost 
brought up together as children — still I knew Miss Rachel's 
reserved character too well to believe that she would show 
her mind to any body in this way. What my daughter told 
me on the present occasion was, as I suspected, more what 
she wished than what she really knew. 

On the nineteenth another event happened. We had the 
doctor in the house professionally. He was summoned to 
prescribe for a person whom I have had occasion to present 
to you in these pages — our second house-maid, Rosanna 
Spearman. 

This poor girl — who had puzzled me, as you know already, 
at the Shivering Sand — puzzled me more than once again in 
the interval time of which I am now writing. Penelope's 
notion that her fellow-servant was in love with Mr. Franklin, 
which my daughter, by my orders, kept strictly secret, seemed 
to me just as absurd as ever. But I must own that what I 
myself saw, and what my daughter saw also, of our second 
house-maid's conduct began to look mysterious, to say the 
least of it. 

For example, the girl constantly put herself in ]\Ir. Frank- 
lin's way — very slyly and quietly, but she did it. He took 
about as much notice of her as he took of the cat : it never 
seemed to occur to him to waste a look on Rosanna's plain 
face. The poor thing's appetite, never much, fell away dread- 
fully; and her eyes in the morning showed plain signs of 
waking and crying at night. One day Penelope made an 
awkward discovery, which we hushed up on the spot. She 
caught Rosanna at Mr. Franklin's dressing-table, secretly re- 
moving a rose which Miss Rachel had given him to wear 
in his button-hole, and putting another rose like it, of her 
own picking, in its place. She was, after that, once or twice 
impudent to me, when I gave her a well-meant general hint 
to be careful in her conduct; and, worse still, she was not 

66 



THE MOONSTONE 

over-respectful now on the few occasions when Miss Rachel 
accidentally spoke to her. 

My lady noticed the change, and asked me what I thought 
about it. I tried to screen the girl by answering that I 
thought she was out of health ; and it ended in the doctor 
being sent for, as already mentioned, on the nineteenth. He 
said it was her nerves, and doubted if she was fit for service. 
My lady offered to remove her for change of air to one of 
our farms inland. She begged and prayed, with the tears 
in her eyes, to be let to stop ; and in an evil hour I advised my 
lady to try her for a little longer. As the event proved, and 
as you will soon see, this was the worst advice I could have 
given. If I could only have looked a little way into the 
future, I would have taken Rosanna Spearman out of the 
house, then and there, with my own hand. 

On the twentieth, there came a note from Mr. Godfrey. He 
had arranged to stop at Frizinghall that night, having oc- 
casion to consult his father on business. On the afternoon 
of the next day he and his two eldest sisters would ride over 
to us on horseback, in good time before dinner. An elegant 
little casket in china accompanied the note, presented to Miss 
Rachel, with her cousin's love and best wishes. Mr. Frank- 
lin had only given her a plain locket not worth half the 
money. My daughter Penelope, nevertheless — such is the 
obstinacy of women — still backed him to win. 

Thanks be to Heaven, we have arrived at the eve of the 
birthday at last ! You will own, I think, that I have got 
you over the ground, this time, without much loitering by 
the way. Cheer up ! I'll ease you with another new chapter 
here — and, what is more, that chapter shall take you straight 
into the thick of the story. 



CHAPTER IX. 

JUNE twenty-first, the day of the birthday, was cloudy 
and unsettled at sunrise, but toward noon it cleared up 
bravely. 

67 



THE MOONSTONE 

We, in the servants' hall, began this happy anniversary, 
as usual, by offering our little presents to Miss Rachel, with 
the regular speech delivered annually by me as the chief. I 
follow the plan adopted by the Queen in opening Parliament 
— namely, the plan of saying much the same thing regularly 
every year. Before it is delivered, my speech, like the 
Queen's, is looked for as eagerly as if nothing of the kind 
had ever been heard before. When it is delivered, and turns 
out not to be the novelty anticipated, though they grumble 
a little, they look forward hopefully to something newer next 
year. An easy people to govern, in the Parliament and in the 
Kitchen — that's the moral of it. 

After breakfast, Mr. Franklin and I had a private confer- 
ence on the subject of the Moonstone — the time having now 
come for removing it from the bank at Frizinghall, and 
placing it in Miss Rachel's own hands. 

Whether he had been trying to make love to his cousin 
again, and had got a rebuff — or whether his broken rest, 
night after night, was aggravating the queer contradictions 
and uncertainties in his character — I don't know. But certain 
it is, that Mr, Franklin failed to show himself at his best 
on the morning of the birthday. He was in twenty different 
minds about the Diamond in as many minutes. For my part, 
I stuck fast by the plain facts as we knew them. Nothing 
had happened to justify us in alarming my lady on the sub- 
ject of the jewel and nothing could alter the legal obligation 
that now lay on Mr. Franklin to put it in his cousin's pos- 
session. That was my view of the matter ; and, twist and 
turn it as he might, he was forced in the end to make it his 
view too. We arranged that he was to ride over, after lunch, 
to Frizinghall, and bring the Diamond back, with Mr. God- 
frey and the two young ladies, in all probability, to keep him 
company on the way home again. 

This settled, our young gentleman went back to Miss 
Rachel. 

They consumed the whole morning, and part of the after- 
noon, in the everlasting business of decorating the door, 
Penelope standing by to mix the colors, as directed ; and my 
lady, as luncheon-time drew near, going in and out of the 
room, with her handkerchief to her nose, for they used a 

68 



THE MOONSTONE 

deal of Mr. Franklin's vehicle that day, and trying vainly 
to get the two artists away from their work. It was three 
o'clock before they took off their aprons, and released Penel- 
ope, much worse for the vehicle, and cleaned themselves of 
their mess. But they had done what they wanted — they had 
finished the door on the birthday, and proud enough they 
were of it. The griffins, cupids, and so on, were, I must 
own, most beautiful to behold ; though so many in number, 
so entangled in flowers and devices, and so topsy-turvy in 
their actions and attitudes, that you felt them unpleasantly 
in your head for hours after you had done with the pleasure 
of looking at them. If I add that Penelope ended her part 
of the morning's work by being sick in the back kitchen, it 
is in no unfriendly spirit toward the vehicle. No ! no ! It 
left off stinking when it dried; and if Art requires this sort 
of sacrifice — though the girl is my own daughter — I say, let 
Art have them ! 

Mr. Franklin snatched a morsel from the luncheon-table, 
and rode off to Frizinghall — to escort his cousins, as he told 
my lady. To fetch the Moonstone, as was privately known 
to himself and to me. 

This being one of the high festivals on which I took my 
place at the sideboard, in command of the attendance at 
table, I had plenty to occupy my mind while Mr. Franklin 
was away. Having seen to the wine, and reviewed my men 
and women who were to wait at dinner, I retired to collect 
myself before the company came. A whiff of — you know 
what — and a turn at a certain book which I have had occasion 
to mention in these pages, composed me, body and mind. I 
was aroused from what I am inclined to think must have 
been, not a nap, but a reverie, by the clatter of horses' hoofs 
outside and going to the door, received a cavalcade compris- 
ing Mr. Franklin and his three cousins, escorted by one of 
old Mr. Ablewhite's grooms. 

Mr. Godfrey struck me, strangely enough, as being like 
Mr. Franklin in this respect — that he did not seem to be in 
his customary spirits. He kindly shook hands with me as 
usual and was most politely glad to see his old friend Better- 
edge wearing so well. But there was a sort of cloud over 
him, which I couldn't at all account for; and when I asked 

69 



THE MOONSTONE 

how he had found his father in health, he answered rather 
shortly, "Much as usual." However, the two Miss Able- 
whites were cheerful enough for twenty, which more than 
restored the balance. They were nearly as big as their 
brother; spanking, yellow-haired, rosy lasses, overflowing 
with superabundant flesh and blood ; bursting from head to 
foot with health and spirits. The legs of the poor horses 
trembled with carrying them ; and when they jumped from 
their saddles, without waiting to be helped, I declare they 
bounced on the ground as if they were made of India rubber. 
Every thing the Miss Ablewhites said began with a large O ; 
every thing they did was done with a bang ; and they giggled 
and screamed, in season and out of season, on the smallest 
provocation. Bouncers — that's what I call them. 

Under cover of the noise made by the young ladies, I had 
an opportunity of saying a private word to Mr. Franklin in 
the hall. 

"Have you got the Diamond safe, sir?" 
He nodded, -and tapped the breast-pocket of his coat. 
"Have you seen any thing of the Indians ?" 
"Not a glimpse." With that answer, he asked for my 
lady, and, hearing she was in the small drawing-room, went 
there straight. The bell rang, before he had been a minute 
in the room, and Penelope was sent to tell Miss Rachel that 
Mr. Franklin Blake wanted to speak to her. 

Crossing the hall about half an hour afterward I was brought 
to a sudden stand-still by an outbreak of screams from the 
small drawing-room. I can't say I was at all alarmed ; for 
I recognized in the screams the favorite large O of the Miss 
Ablewhites. However, I went in, on pretense of asking for 
instructions about the dinner, to discover whether any thing 
serious had really happened. 

There stood Miss Rachel at the table, like a person fasci- 
nated, with the Colonel's unlucky Diamond in her hand. 
There, on either side of her, knelt the two Bouncers, devour- 
ing the jewel with their eyes, and screaming with ecstasy 
every time it flashed on them in a new light. There, at the 
opposite side of the table, stood Mr. Godfrey, clapping his 
hands like a large child, and singing out, softly, "Exquisite! 

70 



THE MOONSTONE 

exquisite !" There sat Mr. Franklin, in a chair by the book- 
case, tugging at his beard, and looking anxiously toward the 
window. And there, at the window, stood the object he was 
contemplating — my lady, having the extract from the Col- 
onel's will in her hand, and keeping her back turned on the 
whole of the company. 

She faced me when I asked for my instructions, and I saw 
the family frown gathering over her eyes, and the family 
temper twitching at the corners of her mouth. 

"Come to my room in half an hour," she answered. 'T 
shall have something to say to you then." 

With those words she went out. It was plain enough that 
she was posed by the same difficulty which had posed Mr. 
Franklin and me in our conference at the Shivering Sand. 
Was the legacy of the Moonstone a proof that she had treated 
her brother with cruel injustice? or was it a proof that he 
was worse than the worst she had ever thought of him? 
Serious questions those for my lady to determine ; while her 
daughter, innocent of all knowledge of the Colonel's char- 
acter, stood there with the Colonel's birthday gift in her 
hand. 

Before I could leave the room, in my turn. Miss Rachel, 
always considerate to the old servant who had been in the 
house when she was born, stopped me. "Look, Gabriel !" she 
said, and flashed the jewel before my eyes in a ray of sun- 
light that poured through the window. 

Lord bless us ! it zvas a Diamond ! As large, or nearly, as 
a plover's eggl The light that streamed from it was like 
the light of the harvest-moon. When you looked down into 
the stone, you looked into a yellow deep that drew your eyes 
into it so that they saw nothing else. It seemed unfathom- 
able; this jewel, that you could hold between your finger and 
thumb, seemed unfathomable as the heavens themselves. We 
set it in the sun, and then shut the light out of the room, 
and it shone awfully out of the depths of its own brightness, 
with a moony gleam, in the dark. No wonder Miss Rachel 
was fascinated ; no wonder her cousins screamed. The Dia- 
mond laid such a hold on me that I burst out with as large an 
"O !" as the Bouncers themselves. The only one of us who 
kept his senses was Mr. Godfrey. He put an arm round each 

7' 



THE MOONSTONE 

of his sisters' waists, and, looking compassionately backward 
and forward between the Diamond and me, said, "Carbon, 
Bettercdge ; mere carbon, my good friend, after all !" 

His object, I suppose, was to instruct me. All he did, 
however, was to remind me of the dinner. I hobbled ofT to 
my army of waiters down stairs. As I went out Mr. Godfrey 
said, "Dear old Betteredge, I have the truest regard for him !" 
He was embracing his sisters and ogling Miss Rachel while 
he honored me with that testimony of affection. Something 
like a stock of love to draw on there! Mr. Franklin was a 
perfect savage by comparison with him. 

At the end of half an hour I presented myself, as directed, 
in my lady's room. 

What passed between my mistress and me on this occasion 
was, in the main, a repetition of what had passed between 
Mr. Franklin and me at the Shivering Sand — with this dif- 
ference, that I took care to keep my own counsel about the 
jugglers, seeing that' nothing had happened to justify me in 
alarming my lady on this head. When I received my dis- 
missal I could see that she took the blackest view possible 
of the Colonel's motives, and that she was bent on getting 
the Moonstone out of her daughter's possession at the first 
opportunity. 

On my way back to my own part of the house I was 
encountered by Mr. Franklin. He wanted to know if I had 
seen any thing of his cousin Rachel. I had seen nothing of 
her. Could I tell him where his cousin Godfrey was? I 
didn't know, but I began to suspect that Cousin Godfrey 
might not be far away from Cousin Rachel. Mr. Franklin's 
suspicions apparently took the same turn. He tugged 
hard at his beard, and went and shut himself up in the 
library with a bang of the door that had a world of mean- 
ing in it. 

I was interrupted no more in the business of preparing for 
the birthday dinner till it was time for me to smarten myself 
up for receiving the company. Just as I had got my white 
waistcoat on, Penelope presented herself at my toilet, on 
pretense of brushing what little hair I have got left, and 
improving the tie of my white cravat. Aly girl was in high 
spirits, and I saw she had something to say to me. She gave 

72 



THE MOONSTONE 

me a kiss on the top of my bald head, and whispered, "News 
for you, father! Miss Rachel has refused him." 

"Who's him?" I asked. 

"The ladies' committee-man, father," says Penelope. "A 
nasty, sly fellow. I hate him for trying to supplant Mr. 
Franklin !" 

If I had had breath enough I should certainly have pro- 
tested against this indecent way of speaking of an eminent 
philanthropic character. But my daughter happened to be 
improving the tie of my cravat at that moment, and the 
whole strength of her feelings found its way into her fingers. 
I never was more nearly strangled in my life. 

"I saw him take her away alone into the rose-garden," 
says Penelope. "And I waited behind the holly to see how 
they came back. They had gone out arm in arm, both 
laughing. They came back, walking separate, as grave as 
grave could be, and looking straight away from each other 
in a manner which there was no mistaking. I never was 
more delighted, father, in my life ! There's one woman in 
the world who can resist Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite, at any 
rate; and, if I was a lady, I should be another!" 

Here I should have protested again. But my daughter 
had got the hair-brush by this time, and the whole strength 
of her feelings had passed into that. If you are bald, you 
will understand how she scarified me. If you are not, skip 
this bit, and thank God you have got something in the way 
of a defense between your hair-brush and your head. 

"Just on the other side of the holly," Penelope went on, 
"Mr. Godfrey came to a stand-still. 'You prefer,' says he, 
'that I should stop here as if nothing had happened?' Miss 
Rachel turned on him like lightning. 'You have accepted 
my mother's invitation,' she said; 'and you are here to meet 
her guests. Unless you wish to make a scandal in the house, 
you will remain, of course !' She went on a few steps, and 
then seemed to relent a little. 'Let us forget what has passed, 
Godfrey,' she said, 'and let us remain cousins still.' She gave 
him her hand. He kissed it, which / should have considered 
taking a liberty, and then she left him. He waited a little 
by himself, with his head down, and his heel grinding a hole 
slowly in the gravel-walk ; you never saw a man look more 

73 



THE MOONSTONE 

put out in your life. 'Awkward !' he said, between his teeth, 
when he looked up, and went on to the house — 'very awk- 
ward!' If that was his opinion of himself, he was quite right. 
Awkward enough, I'm sure. And the end of it is, father, 
what I told you all along," cries Penelope, finishing me off 
with a last scarification, the hottest of all, "Mr. Franklin's 
the man !" 

I got possession of the hair-brush, and opened my lips to 
administer the reproof which, you will own, my daughter's 
language and conduct richly deserved. 

Before I could say a word the crash of carriage-wheels 
outside struck in and stopped me. The first of the dinner 
company had come. Penelope instantly ran ofif. I put on 
my coat, and looked in the glass. My head was as red as 
a lobster; but, in other respects, I was as nicely dressed for 
the ceremonies of the evening as a man need be. I got into 
the hall just in time to annovuice the first two of the guests. 
You needn't feel particularly interested about them. Only 
the philanthropist's father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Able- 
white. 



CHAPTER X. 



ONE on the top of the other, the rest of the company fol- 
lowed the Ablewhites, till we had the whole tale of them 
complete. Including the family, they were twenty-four in 
all. It was a noble sight to see, when they were settled in 
their places round the dinner-table, and the Rector of Frizing- 
hall, with beautiful elocution, rose and said grace. 

There is no need to worry you with a list of the guests. 
You will meet none of them a second time — in my part of the 
story at any rate — with the exception of two. 

Those two sat on either side of Miss Rachel, who, as queen 
of the day, was naturally the great attraction of the party. 
On this occasion she was more particularly the centre-point 
toward which every body's eyes were directed ; for, to my 
lady's secret annoyance, she wore her wonderful birthday 
present, which eclipsed all the rest — the Moonstone. It was 
without any setting when it had been placed in her hands ; 

74 



THE MOONSTONE 

but that universal genius, Mr, Franklin, had contrived, with 
the help of his neat fingers and a little bit of silver wire, to 
fix it as a brooch in the bosom of her white dress. Every 
body wondered at the prodigious size and beauty of the Dia- 
mond, as a matter of course. But the only two of the com- 
pany who said any thing out of the common way about it 
were those two guests. I have mentioned, who sat by Miss 
Rachel on her right hand and her left. 

The guest on her left was Mr. Candy, our doctor at Friz- 
inghall. 

This was a pleasant, companionable little man, with the 
drawback, however, I must own, of being too fond, in season 
and out of season, of his joke, and of plunging in rather a 
headlong manner into talk with strangers, without waiting 
to feel his way first. In society he was constantly making 
mistakes, and setting people unintentionally by the ears to- 
gether. In his medical practice he was a more prudent man ; 
picking up his discretion, as his enemies said, by a kind of 
instinct, and proving to be generally right where more care- 
fully conducted doctors turned out to be wrong. What he 
said about the Diamond to Miss Rachel was said, as usual, 
by way of a mystification or joke. He gravely entreated her, 
in the interests of science, to let him take it home and burn 
it. "We will first heat it. Miss Rachel," says the doctor, "to 
such and such a degree ; then we will expose it to a current 
of air ; and, little by little — pufif ! — we evaporate the Diamond, 
and spare you a world of anxiety about the safe-keeping of 
a valuable precious stone!" My lady, listening with rather 
a care-worn expression on her face, seemed to wish that the 
doctor had been in earnest, and that he could have found 
Miss Rachel zealous enough in the cause of science to sacrifice 
her birthday gift. 

The other guest, who sat on my young lady's right hand, 
was an eminent public character — being no other than the 
celebrated Indian traveler, Mr. Murthwaite, who at risk of 
his life had penetrated in disguise where no European had 
ever set foot before. 

This was a long, lean, wiry, brown, silent man. He had a 
weary look and a very steady attentive eye. It was rumored 
that he was tired of the humdrum life among the people in 

75 



THE MOONSTONE 

our parts and longing to go back and wander off on the tramp 
again in the wild places of the East. Except what he said 
to Miss Rachel about her jewel, I doubt if he spoke six words, 
or drank so much as a single glass of wine, all through the 
dinner. The Moonstone was the object that interested him 
in the smallest degree. The fame of it seemed to have 
reached him, in some of those perilous Indian places where 
his wanderings had lain. After looking at it silently for so 
long a time that Miss Rachel began to get confused, he said 
to her, in his cool, immovable way, "If you ever go to India, 
Miss Verinder, don't take your uncle's birthday gift with you. 
A Hindoo diamond is sometimes a part of a Hindoo religion. 
I know a certain city, and a certain temple in that city, where, 
dressed as you are now, your life would not be worth five 
minutes' purchase." Miss Rachel, safe in England, was 
quite delighted to hear of her danger in India. The Bouncers 
were more delighted still : they dropped their knives and forks 
with a crash, and burst out together vehemently, "Oh ! how 
interesting!" My lady fidgeted in her chair, and changed 
the subject. 

As the dinner got on I became aware, little by little, that this 
festival was not prospering as other like festivals had pros- 
pered before it. 

Looking back at the birthday now, by the light of what 
happened afterward, I am half inclined to think that the 
cursed Diamond must have cast a blight on the whole com- 
pany. I plied them well with wine ; and, being a privileged 
character, followed the unpopular dishes round the table, 
and whispered to the company, confidentially, "Please to 
change your mind, and try it ; for I know it will do you 
good." Nine times out of ten they changed their minds — 
out of regard for their old original Betteredge, they w^ere 
pleased to say — but all to no purpose. There were gaps of 
silence in the talk, as the dinner got on. that made me feel 
personally uncomfortable. When they did use their tongues 
again, they used them, innocently, in the most unfortunate 
manner and to the worst possible purpose. Mr. Candy, the 
doctor, for instance, said more unlucky things than I ever 
knew him to say before. Take one sample of the way in 

76 



THE MOONSTONE 

which he went on, and you will understand what I had to 
put up with at the sideboard, officiating as I was in the char- 
acter of a man who had the prosperity of the festival at 
heart. 

One of our ladies present at dinner was worthy Mrs, 
Threadgall, widow of the late Professor of that name. Talk- 
ing of her deceased husband perpetually, this good lady never 
mentioned to strangers that he ivas deceased. She thought, 
I suppose, that every able-bodied adult in England ought to 
know as much as that. In one of the gaps of silence some- 
body mentioned the dry and rather nasty subject of human 
anatomy; whereupon good Mrs. Threadgall straightway 
brought in her late husband as usual, without mentioning that 
he was dead. Anatomy she described as the Professor's 
favorite recreation in his leisure hours. As ill luck would 
have it, Mr. Candy, sitting opposite, who knew nothing of 
the deceased gentleman, heard her. Being the most polite 
of men, he seized the opportunity of assisting the Professor's 
anatomical amusements on the spot. 

"They have got some remarkably fine skeletons lately at 
the College of Surgeons," says Mr. Candy, across the table, 
in a loud, cheerful voice. *T strongly recommend the Pro- 
fessor, ma'am, when he next has an hour to spare, to pay 
them, a visit." 

You might have heard a pin fall. The company, out of 
respect to the Professor's memory, all sat speechless. I was 
behind Mrs. Threadgall at the time, plying her confidentially 
with a glass of hock. She dropped her head, and said, in a 
very low voice, "My beloved husband is no more." 

Unlucky Mr. Candy, hearing nothing, and miles away from 
suspecting the truth, went on across the table louder and 
politer than ever. 

"The Professor may not be aware," says he, "that the card 
of a member of the College will admit him, on any day but 
Sunday, between the hours of ten and four." 

Mrs. Threadgall dropped her head right into her tucker, 
and, in a lower voice still, repeated the solemn words, "My 
beloved husband is no more." 

I winked hard at Mr. Candy across the table. Miss Rachel 
touched his arm. My lady looked unutterable things at him. 

77 



THE MOONSTONE 

Quite useless ! On he went, with a cordiality that there was 
no stopping anyhow. "I shall be delighted," says he, "to 
send the Professor my card, if you will oblige me by men- 
tioning his present address?" 

"His present address, sir, is the grave," says Mrs. Thread- 
gall, suddenly losing her temper, and speaking with an 
emphasis and fury that made the glasses ring again. "The 
Professor has been dead these ten years !" 

"Oh, good heavens !" says Mr. Candy. Excepting the 
Bouncers, who burst out laughing, such a blank now fell on 
the company that they might all have been going the way 
of the Professor, and hailing, as he did, from the direction 
of the grave. 

So much for Mr. Candy. The rest of them were nearly 
as provoking in their different ways as the doctor himself. 
When they ought to have spoken, they didn't speak ; or when 
they did speak, they were perpetually at cross-purposes. Mr. 
Godfrey, though so eloquent in public, declined to exert him- 
self in private. Whether he was sulky, or whether he was 
bashful, after his discomfiture in the rose-garden, I can't say. 
He kept all his talk for the private ear of the lady who sat 
next to him. She was one of his committee-women — a spiri- 
tually-minded person, with a fine show of collar-bone, and a 
pretty taste in champagne ; liked it dry, you understand, and 
plenty of it. Being close behind these two at the sideboard, 
I can testify, from what I heard pass between them, that the 
company lost a good deal of very improving conversation, 
which I caught up while drawing the corks, and carving the 
mutton, and so forth. What they said about their charities 
I didn't hear. When I had time to listen to them, they had 
got a long way beyond their women to be confined, and their 
women to be rescued, and were buckling to on serious sub- 
jects. Religion (I understood them to say, between the corks 
and the carving) meant love. And love meant religion. And 
earth was heaven a little the worse for wear. And heaven 
was earth, done up again to look like new. Earth had some 
very objectionable people in it ; but, to make amends for that, 
all the women in heaven would be members of a prodigious 
committee that never quarreled, wdth all the men in atten- 
dance on them as ministering angels. Beautiful ! beautiful ' 

78 



.L 



THE MOONSTONE 

But why the mischief did Mr. Godfrey keep it all to his lady 
and himself? 

Mr. Franklin again — surely, you will say, Mr. Franklin 
stirred the company up into making a pleasant evening of it? 

Nothing of the sort ! He had quite recovered himself, and 
he was in wonderful force and spirits, Penelope having in- 
formed him, I suspect, of Mr. Godfrey's reception in the rose- 
garden. But, talk as he might, nine times out of ten he 
pitched on the wrong subject, or he addressed himself to the 
wrong person ; the end of it being that he offended some, and 
puzzled all of them. That foreign training of his — those 
French and German and Italian sides of him, to which I 
have already alluded, came out, at my lady's hospitable board, 
in a most bewildering manner. 

What do you think, for instance, of his discussing the 
lengths to which a married woman might let her admiration 
go for a man who was not her husband, and putting it in his 
clear-headed witty French way to the maiden aunt of the 
Vicar of Frizinghall? What do you think, when he shifted 
to the German side, of his telling the lord of the manor, while 
that great authority on cattle was quoting his experience in 
the breeding of bulls, that experience, properly understood, 
counted for nothing, and that the proper way to breed bulls 
was to look deep into your own mind, evolve out of it the 
idea of a perfect bull, and produce him? What do you say, 
when our county member, growing hot at cheese and salad 
time, about the spread of democracy in England, burst out 
as follows : "If we once lose our ancient safeguards, Mr. 
Blake, I beg to ask you, what have we got left?" — what do 
you say to Mr. Franklin answering, from the Italian point 
of view : "We have got three things left, sir — Love, Music, 
and Salad"? He not only terrified the company with such 
outbreaks as these, but, when the English side of him turned 
up in due course, he lost his foreign smoothness ; and, getting 
on the subject of the medical profession, said such downright 
things in ridicule of doctors, that he actually put good- 
humored little Mr. Candy in a rage. 

The dispute between them began in Mr. Franklin being 
led — I forget how — to acknowledge that he had latterly slept 
very badly at night. Mr. Candy thereupon told him that his 

79 



THE MOONSTONE 

nerves were all out of order, and that he ought to go through 
a course of medicine immediately. Mr. Franklin replied 
that a course of medicine and a course of groping in the 
dark, meant, in his estimation, one and the same thing. Mr. 
Candy, hitting back smartly, said that Mr. Franklin himself 
was, constitutionally speaking, groping in the dark after sleep, 
and that nothing but medicine could help him to find it. Mr. 
Franklin, keeping the ball up on his side, said he had often 
heard of the blind leading the blind, and now, for the first 
time, he knew what it meant. In this way they kept it going 
briskly, cut and thrust, till they both of them got hot — Mr. 
Candy, in particular, so completely losing his self-control, in 
defense of his profession, that my lady was obliged to inter- 
fere, and forbid the dispute to go on. This necessary act of 
authority put the last extinguisher on the spirits of the com- 
pany. The talk spurted up again here and there, for a minute 
or two at a time ; but there was a miserable lack of life and 
sparkle in it. The Devil, or the Diamond, possessed that 
dinner party ; and it was a relief to every body when my 
mistress rose, and gave the ladies the signal to leave the 
gentlemen over their wine. 

I HAD just ranged the decanters in a row before old Mr. Able- 
white, who represented the master of the house, when there 
came a sound from the terrace which startled me out of my 
company manners on the instant. Mr. Franklin and I looked 
at each other ; it was the sound of the Indian drum. As I 
live by bread, here were the jugglers returning to us with 
the return of the Moonstone to the house ! 

As they rounded the corner of the terrace, and came in 
sight, I hobbled out to warn them off. But, as ill-luck would 
have it, the two Bouncers were beforehand with me. They 
whizzed out on to the terrace like a couple of sky-rockets, 
wild to see the Indians exhibit their tricks. The other ladies 
followed ; the gentlemen came out on their side. Before you 
could say "Lord, bless us !" the rogues were making their 
salams ; and the Bouncers were kissing the pretty little boy. 

Mr. Franklin got on one side of Miss Rachel, and I put 
myself behind her. If our suspicions were right, there she 

80 



THE MOONSTONE 

stood, innocent of all knowledge of the truth, showing the 
Indians the Diamond in the bosom of her dress ! 

I can't tell you what tricks they performed, or how they 
did it. What with the vexation about the dinner, and what 
with the provocation of the rogues coming back just in the 
nick of time to see the jewel with their own eyes, I own I 
lost my head. The first thing that I remember noticing was 
the sudden appearance on the scene of the Indian traveler, 
Mr. Murthwaite. Skirting the half-circle in which the gentle- 
folks stood or sat, he came quietly behind the jugglers, and 
spoke to them on a sudden in the language of their own 
country. 

If he had pricked them with a bayonet, I doubt if the 
Indians could have started and turned on him with more 
tigerish quickness than they did on hearing the first words 
that passed his lips. The next moment they were bowing and 
salaming to him in their most polite and snaky way. After 
a few words in the unknown tongue had passed on either 
side, Mr. Murthwaite withdrew as quietly as he had ap- 
proached. The chief Indian, who acted as an interpreter, 
thereupon wheeled about again toward the gentlefolks. I 
noticed that the fellow's coffee-colored face had turned gray 
since Mr. Murthwaite had spoken to him. He bowed to my 
lady, and informed her that the exhibition was over. The 
Bouncers, indescribably disappointed, burst out with a loud 
"Oh !" directed against Mr. Murthwaite for stopping the per- 
formance. The chief Indian laid his hand humbly on his 
breast, and said the second time that the juggling was over. 
The little boy went round with the hat. The ladies withdrew 
to the drawing-room ; and the gentlemen, excepting Mr. 
Franklin and Mr. Murthwaite, returned to their wine. I and 
the footman followed the Indians, and saw them safe off the 
premises. 

Going back by way of the shrubbery, I smelled tobacco, 
and found Mr. Franklin and Mr. Murthwaite, the latter 
smoking a cheroot, walking slowly up and down among the 
trees. Mr. Franklin beckoned to me to join them. 

"This," says Mr. Franklin, presenting me to the great 
traveler, "is Gabriel Betteredge, the old servant and friend 
« 8i 



THE MOONSTONE 

of our family of whom I spoke to you just now. Tell him, 
if you please, what you have just told me." 

Mr. Murthwaitc took his cheroot out of his mouth and 
leaned, in his weary way, against the trunk of a tree. 

"Mr. Betteredge," he began, "those three Indians are no 
more jugglers than you and I are." 

Here was a new surprise ! I naturally asked the traveler 
if he had ever met with the Indians before. 

"Never," says Mr. Murthwaite ; "but I know what Indian 
juggling really is. All you have seen to-night is a very bad 
and clumsy imitation of it. Unless, after long experience, I 
am utterly mistaken, those men are high-caste Brahmans. I 
charged them with being disguised, and you f-.w how it told 
on them, clever as the Hindoo people are in concealing their 
feelings. There is a mystery about their conduct that I can't 
explain. They have doubly sacrificed their caste — first, in 
crossing the sea; secondly, in disguising themselves as jug- 
glers. In the land they live in that is a tremendous sacrifice 
to make. There must be some very serious motive at the 
bottom of it, and some justification of no ordinary kind to 
plead for them, in recovery of their caste, when they return 
to their own country." 

I was struck dumb. Mr. Murthwaite went on with his 
cheroot. Mr. Franklin, after what looked to me like a little 
private veering about between the different sides of his char- 
acter, broke the silence as follows, speaking in his nice Italian 
manner, with his solid English foundation showing through : 

"I feel some hesitation, Mr. Murthwaite, in troubling you 
with family matters, in which you can have no interest, and 
which I am not very willing to speak of out of our own circle. 
But, after what you have said, I feel bound, in the interests 
of Lady Verinder and her daughter, to tell you something 
which may possibly put the clue into your hands. I speak 
to you in confidence ; you will oblige me, I am sure, by not 
forgetting that?" 

With this preface he told the Indian traveler (speaking 
now in his clear-headed French way) all that he had told 
me at the Shivering Sand. Even the immovable Mr. 
Murthwaite was so interested in what he heard that he let 
his cheroot go out. x 

82 

i 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Now," says Mr. Franklin, when he had done, "what does 
your experience say?" 

"My experience," answered the traveler, "says that you 
have had more narrow escapes of your life, Mr. Franklin 
Blake, than I have had of mine; and that is saying a great 
deal." 

It was Mr. Franklin's turn to be astonished now. 

"Is it really as serious as that ?" he asked. 

"In my opinion it is," answered Mr. Murthwaite. "I can't 
doubt, after what you have told me, that the restoration of 
the Moonstone to its place on the forehead of the Indian idol, 
is the motive and the justification of that sacrifice of caste 
which I alluded to just now. Those men will wait their 
opportunity with the patience of cats, and will use it with the 
ferocity of tigers. Flow you have escaped them I can't 
imagine," says the eminent traveler, lighting his cheroot 
again, and staring hard at Mr. Franklin. "You have been 
carrying the Diamond backward and forward, here and in 
London, and you are still a living man ! Let us try and 
account for it. It was daylight, both times, I suppose, when 
you took the jewel out of the bank in London?" 

"Broad daylight," says Mr. Franklin. 

"And plenty of people in the streets?" 

"Plenty." 

"You settled, of course, to arrive at Lady Verinder's house 
at a certain time? It's a lonely country between this and 
the station. Did you keep your appointment ?" 

"No. I arrived four hours earlier than my appointment." 

"I beg to congratulate you on that proceeding! When 
did you take the Diamond to the bank at the town here?" 

"I took it an hour after I had brought it to this house — 
and three hours before any body was prepared for seeing me 
in these parts." 

"I beg to congratulate you again ! Did you bring it back 
here alone?" 

"No. I happened to ride back with my cousins and the 
groom." 

"I beg to congratulate you for the third time ! If you ever 
feel inclined to travel beyond the civilized limits, Mr. Blake, 
let me know, and I will go with you. You are a lucky man." 

83 



THE MOONSTONE 

Here I struck in. This sort of thing didn't at all square 
with my English ideas. 

"You don't really mean to say, sir," I asked, "that they 
would have taken Mr. Franklin's life, to get their Diamond, 
if he had given them the chance?" 

"Do you smoke, Mr. Betteredge?" says the traveler. 

"Yes, sir." 

"Do you care much for the ashes left in your pipe when 
you empty it?" 

"No, sir." 

"In the country those men came from they care just as 
much about killing a man as you care about emptying the 
ashes out of your pipe. If a thousand lives stood between 
them and the getting back of their Diamond — and if they 
thought they could destroy those lives without discovery — 
they would take them all. The sacrifice of caste is a serious 
thing in India, if you like. The sacrifice of life is nothing 
at afl." 

I expressed my opinion upon this that they were a set of 
murdering thieves. Mr. Murthwaite expressed his opinion 
that they were a wonderful people. Mr. Franklin, expressing 
no opinion at all, brought us back to the matter in hand. 

"They have seen the Moonstone on Miss Verinder's dress," 
he said. "What is to be done?" 

"What your uncle threatened to do," answered Mr. 
Murthwaite. "Colonel Herncastle understood the people he 
had to deal with. Send the Diamond to-morrow, under guard 
of more than one man, to be cut up at Amsterdam. Make 
half a dozen diamonds of it instead of one. There is an end 
of its sacred identity as The Moonstone — and there is an end 
of the conspiracy." 

Mr. Franklin turned to me. 

"There is no help for it," he said. "We must speak to 
Lady Verinder to-morrow." 

"What about to-night, sir?" I asked. "Suppose the Indians 
come back?" 

Mr. Murthwaite answered me before ]\Ir. Franklin could 
speak. 

"The Indians won't risk coming back to-night," he said. 
"The direct way is hardly ever the way they take to any thing 

84 



! 



THE MOONSTONE 

— let alone a matter like this, in which the slightest mistake 
might be fatal to their reaching their end." 

"But suppose the rogues are bolder than you think, sir?" 
I persisted. 

"In that case," says Mr. ]\Iurthwaite, "let the dogs loose. 
Have you got any big dog in the yard ?" 

"Two, sir. A mastiff and a blood-hound." 

"They will do. In the present emergency, Mr. Betteredge, 
the mastiff and the blood-hound have one great merit — they 
are not likely to be troubled with your scruples about the 
sanctity of human life." 

The strumming of the piano reached us from the drawing- 
room as he fired that shot at me. He threw away his cheroot, 
and took Mr. Franklin's arm, to go back to the ladies. I 
noticed that the sky was clouding over fast as I followed 
them to the house. Mr. Murthwaite noticed it too. He 
looked round at me in his dry, drolling way, and said : 

"The Indians will want their umbrellas, Mr. Betteredge, 
to-night !" 

It was all very well for him to joke. But I was not an 
eminent traveler; and my way in this world had not led me 
into playing ducks and drakes with my own life among 
thieves and murderers in the outlandish places of the earth. 
I went into my own little room, and sat down in my chair 
in a perspiration, and wondered helplessly what was to be 
done next. In this anxious frame of mind other men might 
have ended by working themselves up into a fever; / ended 
in a different way. I lit my pipe, and took a turn at Robinson 
Crusoe. 

Before I had been at it five minutes I came to this amazing 
bit — page one hundred and sixty-one — as follows : 

"Fear of Danger is ten thousand times more terrifying 
than Danger itself, when apparent to the Eyes ; and we find 
the Burden of Anxiety greater, by much, than the Evil which 
we are anxious about." 

The man who doesn't believe in Robinson Crusoe after that 
is a man with a screw loose in his understanding, or a man 
lost in the mist of his own self-conceit ! Argument is thrown 
away upon him ; and pity is better reserved for some person 
with a livelier faith. 

85 



THE MOONSTONE 

I was far on with my second pipe, and still lost in admira- 
tion of that wonderful book, when Penelope (who had been 
handing round the tea) came in with her report from the 
drawing-room. She had left the Bouncers singing a duet — 
words beginning with a large *'0," and music to correspond. 
She had observed that my lady made mistakes in her game 
of whist for the first time in our experience of her. She had 
seen the great traveler asleep in a corner. She had over- 
heard Mr. Franklin sharpening his wits on Mr. Godfrey, at 
the expense of Ladies' Charities in general ; and she had 
noticed that Mr. Godfrey hit him back again rather more 
smartly than became a gentleman of his benevolent character. 
She had detected Miss Rachel, apparently engaged in appeas- 
ing Mrs. Threadgall by showing her some photographs, and 
really occupied in stealing looks at Mr. Franklin, which no 
intelligent lady's-maid could misinterpret for a single instant. 
Finally, she had missed Mr. Candy, the doctor, who had 
mysteriously disappeared from the drawing-room, and had 
then mysteriously returned, and entered into conversation 
with Mr. Godfrey. Upon the whole, things were prospering 
better than the experience of the dinner gave us any right 
to expect. If we could only hold on for another hour, old 
Father Time would bring up their carriages, and relieve us 
of them altogether. 

Every thing wears off in this world ; and even the com- 
forting effect of Robinson Crusoe wore off after Penelope 
left me. I got fidgety again, and resolved on making a survey 
of the grounds before the rain came. Instead of taking the 
footman, whose nose was human, and therefore useless in any 
emergency, I took the blood-hound with me. His nose for 
a stranger was to be depended on. We went all round the 
premises, and out into the road — and returned as wise as 
we went, having discovered no such thing as a lurking human 
creature anywhere. I chained up the dog again for the 
present ; and, returning once more by way of the shrubbery, 
met two of our gentlemen coming out toward me from the 
drawing-room. The two were Mr. Candy and Mr. Godfrey, 
still, as Penelope had reported them, in conversation together, 
and laughing softly over some pleasant conceit of their own. 
I thought it rather odd that those two should have run up 

86 



I 



THE MOONSTONE 

a friendship together — but passed on, of course, without 
appearing to notice them. 

The arrival of the carriages was the signal for the arrival 
of the rain. It poured as if it meant to pour all night. With 
the exception of the doctor, whose gig was waiting for him, 
the rest of the company went home snugly under cover in 
close carriages. I told Mr. Candy that I was afraid he would 
get wet through. He told me, in return, that he wondered I 
had arrived at my time of life without knowing that a doctor's 
skin was water-proof. So he drove away in the rain, laugh- 
ing over his own little joke ; and so we got rid of our dinner 
company. 

The next thing to tell is the story of the night. 



CHAPTER XI. 

WHEN the last of the guests had driven away I went 
back into the inner hall, and found Samuel at the side- 
table, presiding over the brandy and soda-water. My lady 
and Miss Rachel came out of the drawing-room, followed 
by the two gentlemen. Mr. Godfrey had some brandy and 
soda-water. Mr. Franklin took nothing. He sat down, look- 
ing dead tired ; the talking on this birthday occasion had, I 
suppose, been too much for him. 

My lady, turning round to wish them good-night, looked 
hard at the wicked Colonel's legacy shining in her daughter's 
dress. 

"Rachel," she asked, "where are you going to put your 
Diamond to-night?" 

Miss Rachel was in high good spirits, just in that humor 
for talking nonsense, and perversely persisting in it as if it 
was sense, which you may sometimes have observed in young 
girls when they are highly wrought up, at the end of an 
exciting day. First, she declared she didn't know- where to 
put the Diamond. Then she said, "On my dressing-table, 
of course, along with the other things." Then she remem- 
bered that the Diamond might take to shining of itself, with 
its awful moony light, in the dark, and that would terrify her 

87 



THE MOONSTONE 

in the dead of night. Then she bethought herself of an Indian 
cabinet which stood in her sitting-room, and instantly made 
up her mind to put the Indian diamond in the Indian cabinet 
for the purpose of permitting two beautiful native produc- 
tions to admire each other. Having let her little flow of non- 
sense run on as far as that point, her mother interposed and 
stopped her. 

"My dear ! your Indian cabinet has no lock to it," says my 
lady. 

"Good heavens, mamma !" cries Miss Rachel, "is this a 
hotel ? Are there thieves in the house ?" 

Without taking notice of this fantastic way of talking, my 
lady wished the gentlemen good-night. She next turned to 
Miss Rachel, and kissed her. "Why not let nie keep the 
Diamond for you to-night?" she asked. 

Miss Rachel received that proposal as she might, ten years 
since, have received a proposal to part her from a new doll. 
My lady saw there was no reasoning with her that night. 
"Come into my room, Rachel, the first thing to-morrow morn- 
ing," she said. "I shall have something to say to you." With 
those last words she left us slowly ; thinking her own thoughts, 
and, to all appearance, not best pleased with the way by which 
they were leading her. 

Miss Rachel was the next to say good-night. She shook 
hands first with Mr. Godfrey, who was standing at the other 
end of the hall, looking at a picture. Then she turned back 
to Mr. Franklin, still sitting weary and silent in a corner. 

What words passed between them I can't say. But stand- 
ing near the old oak frame which holds our large looking- 
glass, I saw her, reflected in it, slyly slipping the locket which 
Mr. Franklin had given to her out of the bosom of her dress, 
and showing it to him for a moment, with a smile which 
certainly meant something out of the common, before she 
tripped off to bed. This incident staggered me a little in the 
reliance I had previously felt on my own judgment. I began 
to think that Penelope might be right about the state of her 
young lady's- affections after all. 

As soon as Miss Rachel left him eyes to see with, Mr. 
Franklin noticed me. His variable humor, shifting about 
every thing, had shifted about the Indians already. 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Betteredge," he said, "I am half inclined to think I took 
Mr. Murthvvaite too seriously when we had that talk in the 
shrubbery. I wonder whether he has been trying any of his 
traveler's tales on us? Do you really mean to let the dogs 
loose ?" 

"I'll relieve them of their collars, sir," I answered, "and 
leave them free to take a turn in the night, if they smell a 
reason for it." 

"All right," says Mr. Franklin. "We'll see what is to be 
done to-morrow. I am not at all disposed to alarm my aunt, 
Betteredge, without a very pressing reason for it. Good- 
night." 

He looked so worn and pale as he nodded to me, and took 
his candle to go up stairs, that I ventured to advise his having 
a drop of brandy-and-water, by way of night-cap. Mr. God- 
frey, walking toward us from the other end of the hall, 
backed me. He pressed Mr. Franklin, in the friendliest man- 
ner, to take something before he went to bed. 

I only note these trifling circumstances, because, after all 
I had seen and heard that day, it pleased me to observe that 
our two gentlemen were on just as good terms as ever. Their 
warfare of words, heard by Penelope in the drawing-room, 
and their rivalry for the best place in Miss Rachel's good 
graces, seemed to have set no serious difference between them. 
But there ! they were both good-tempered, and both men of 
the world. And there is certainly this merit in people of 
station, that they are not nearly so quarrelsome among each 
other as people of no station at all. 

Mr. Franklin declined the brandy-and-water, and went up 
stairs with Mr. Godfrey, their rooms being next door to each 
other. On the landing, however, either his cousin persuaded 
him, or he veered about and changed his mind as usual. 
"Perhaps I may want it in the night," he called down to me. 
"Send up some brandy into my room." 

I sent up Samuel with the brandy-and-water; and then 
went out and unbuckled the dogs' collars. They both lost 
their heads with astonishment on being set loose at that time 
of night, and jumped upon me like a couple of puppies! 
However, the rain soon cooled them down again : they lapped 
a drop of water each, and crept back into their kennels. As 



THE MOONSTONE 

I went into the house I noticed signs in the sky which 
betokened a break in the weather for the better. For the 
present, it still poured heavily, and the ground was in a per- 
fect sop. 

Samuel and I went all over the house, and shut up as usual. 
I examined every thing myself, and trusted nothing to my 
deputy on this occasion. All was safe and fast when I 
rested my old bones in bed, between midnight and one in the 
morning. 

The worries of the day had been a little too much for me, 
I suppose. At any rate, I had a touch of Mr. Franklin's 
malady that night. It was sunrise before I fell off at last 
into a sleep. All the time I lay awake the house was as 
quiet as the grave. Not a sound stirred but the splash of 
the rain, and the sighing of the wind among the trees as a 
breeze sprang up with the morning. 

About half-past seven I woke, and opened my window on a 
fine sunshiny day. The clock had struck eight, and I 
was just going out to chain vip the dogs again, when I 
heard a sudden whisking of petticoats on the stairs be- 
hind me. 

I turned about, and there was Penelope flying down after 
me like mad. "Father !" she screamed, "come up stairs, for 
God's sake ! The Diamond is gone!" 

"Are you out of your mind?" I asked her. 

"Gone!" says Penelope. "Gone, nobody knows how! 
Come up and see." 

She dragged me after her into her young lady's sitting- 
room, which opened into her bedroom. There, on the thresh- 
old of her bedroom door, stood Miss Rachel, almost as white 
in the face as the white dressing-gown that clothed her. 
There also stood the two doors of the Indian cabinet, wide 
open. One of the drawers inside was pulled out as far as it 
would go. 

"Look !" says Penelope. "I myself saw Miss Rachel put 
the Diamond into that drawer last night." 

I went to the cabinet. The drawer was empty. 

"Is this true, miss?" I asked. 

With a look that was not like herself, with a voice that 

9^ 



THE MOONSTONE 

was not like her own, Miss Rachel answered, as my daughter 
had answered : 

"The Diamond is gone." 

Having said those words, she withdrew into her bedroom, 
and shut and locked the door. 

Before we knew which way to turn next my lady came 
in, hearing my voice in her daughter's sitting-room, and won- 
dering what had happened. The news of the loss of the 
Diamond seemed to petrify her. She went straight to Miss 
Rachel's bedroom and insisted on being admitted. Miss 
Rachel let her in. 

The alarm, running through the house like fire, caught the 
two gentlemen next. 

Mr. Godfrey was the first to come out of his room. All 
he did when he heard what had happened was to hold up 
his hands in a state of bewilderment, which didn't say much 
for his natural strength of mind. Mr. Franklin, whose clear 
head I had confidently counted on to advise us, seemed to 
be as helpless as his cousin when he heard the news in hi& 
turn. For a wonder, he had had a good night's rest at last ; 
and the unaccustomed luxury of sleep had, as he said him- 
self, apparently stupefied him. However, when he had swal- 
lowed his cup of coffee — which he always took, on the foreign 
plan, some hours before he ate any breakfast — his brains 
brightened ; the clear-headed side of him turned up, and he 
took the matter in hand, resolutely and cleverly, much as 
follows : 

He first sent for the servants, and told them to leave all 
the lower doors and windows, with the exception of the 
front door, which I had opened, exactly as they had been 
left when we locked up overnight. He next proposed to his 
cousin and me to make quite sure, before we took any further 
steps, that the Diamond had not accidentally dropped some- 
where out of sight — say at the back of the cabinet, or down 
behind the table on which the cabinet stood. Having searched 
in both places, and found nothing — having also questioned 
Penelope, and discovered from her no more than the little 
she had already told me — Mr. Franklin suggested next ex- 
tending our inquiries to Miss Rachel, and sent Penelope to 
knock at her bedroom door. 

91 



THE MOONSTONE 

My lady answered the knock and closed the door behind 
her. The moment after we heard it locked inside by Miss 
Rachel. My mistress came out among us, looking sorely 
puzzled and distressed. "The loss of the Diamond seems to 
have quite overwhelmed Rachel," she said, in reply to Mr. 
Franklin. "She shrinks, in the strangest manner, from speak- 
ing of it, even to me. It is impossible you can see her for 
the present." 

Having added to our perplexities by this account of Miss 
Rachel, my lady, after a little effort, recovered her usual 
composure, and acted with her usual decision. 

"1 suppose there is no help for it?" she said, quietly. "I 
suppose I have no alternative but to send for the police?" 

"And the first thing for the police to do," added Mr. 
Franklin, catching her up, "is to lay hands on the Indian 
jugglers who performed here last night." 

My lady and Mr. Godfrey (not knowing what Mr. Frank- 
lin and I knew) both started, and both looked surprised. 
■ "I can't stop to explain myself now," Mr. Franklin went 
on. "I can only tell you that the Indians have certainly 
stolen the Diamond. Give me a letter of introduction," says 
he, addressing my lady, "to one of the magistrates at Frizing- 
hall — merely telling him that I represent your interests and 
wishes, and let me ride off with it instantly. Our chance of 
catching the thieves may depend on our not wasting one un- 
necessary minute." (Nota bene: Whether it was the French 
side or the English, the right side of Mr. Franklin seemed 
to be uppermost now. The only question was, How long 
would it last?) 

He put pen, ink, and paper before his aunt, who, as it 
appeared to me, wrote the letter he wanted a little unwill- 
ingly. If it had been possible to overlook such an event as 
the loss of a jewel worth twenty thousand pounds, I believe — 
with my lady's opinion of her late brother, and her distrust 
of his birthday-gift — it would have been privately a relief 
to her to let the thieves get ofif with the Moonstone scot-free. 

I went out with Mr. Franklin to the stables, and took the 
opportunity of asking him how the Indians, whom I sus- 
pected, of course, as shrewdly as he did, could possibly have 
got into the house. 

92 



THE MOONSTONE 

"One of them might have sHpped into the hall, in the con- 
fusion, when the dinner-company were going away," says 
Mr. Franklin. "The fellow may have been under the sofa 
while my aunt and Rachel were talking about where the Dia- 
mond was to be put for the night. He would only have to 
wait till the house was quiet, and there it would be in the 
cabinet, to be had for the taking." With those words he 
called to the groom to open the gate, and galloped off. 

This seemed certainly to be the only rational explanation. 
But how had the thief contrived to make his escape from 
the house? I had found the front door locked and bolted, 
as I had left it at night, when I went to open it, after getting 
up. As for the other doors and windows, there they were 
still, all safe and fast, to speak for themselves. The dogs, 
too? Suppose the thief had got away by dropping from one 
of the upper windows, how had he escaped the dogs? Had 
he come provided for them with drugged meat? As the 
doubt crossed my mind, the dogs themselves came galloping 
at me round a corner, rolling each other over on the wet 
grass, in such lively health ind spirits that it was with no 
small difficulty I brought them to reason, and chained them 
up again. The more I turned it over in my mind, the less 
satisfactory Mr. Franklin's explanation appeared to be. 

We had our breakfast — whatever happens in a house, rob- 
bery or murder, it doesn't matter, you must have your break- 
fast. When we had done, my lady sent for me ; and I found 
myself compelled to tell her all that I had hitherto concealed, 
relating to the Indians and their plot. Being a woman of 
high courage, she soon got over the first startling effect of 
what I had to communicate. Her mind seemed to be far 
more perturbed about her daughter than about the heathen 
rogues and their conspiracy. "You know how odd Rachel 
is, and how differently she behaves sometimes from other 
girls," my lady said to me. "But I have never, in all my 
experience, seen her so strange and so reserved as she is now. 
The loss of her jewel seems almost to have turned her brain. 
Who would have thought that horrible Diamond could have 
laid such a hold on her in so short a time?" 

It was certainly strange. Taking toys and trinkets in 
general, Miss Rachel was nothing like so mad after them as 

93 



THE MOONSTONE 

most young girls. Yet there she was, still locked up incon- 
solably in her bedroom. It is but fair to add that she was 
not the only one of us in the house who was thrown out of 
the regular groove. Mr. Godfrey, for instance — though pro- 
fessionally a sort of consoler-general — seemed to be at a loss 
where to look for his own resources. Having no company to 
amuse him, and getting no chance of trying what his ex- 
perience of women in distress could do toward comforting 
Miss Rachel, he wandered hither and thither about the house 
and garden in an aimless, uneasy way. He was in two dif- 
ferent minds about what it became him to do, after the 
misfortune that had happened to us. Ought he to relieve the 
family, in their present situation, of the responsibility of him 
as a guest? or ought he to stay on the chance that even his 
humble services might be of some use? He decided ulti- 
mately that the last course was perhaps the most customary 
and considerate course to take, in such a very peculiar case 
of family distress as this was. Circumstances try the metal 
a man is really made of. Mr. Godfrey, tried by circum- 
stances, showed himself of weaker metal than I had thought 
i*im to be. As for the women servants — excepting Rosanna 
y/Spearman, who kept by herself — they took to whispering 
I together in corners and staring at nothing suspiciously, as is 
I the manner of that weaker half of the human family, when 
Vany thing extraordinary happens^TTf^aTTouse! T*Tn5'Self ac- 
Nvuowledged to having been fidgety and ill-tempered. The 
cursed Moonstone had turned us all upside down. 

A little before eleven Mr. Franklin came back. The reso- 
lute side of him had, to all appearance, given way, in the 
interval since his departure, under the stress that had been 
laid on it. He had left us at a gallop ; he came back to 
us at a walk. When he went away he was made of iron. 
When he returned he was stuffed with cotton, as limp as limp 
could be. 

"Well !" says my lady, "are the police coming?" 

"Yes," says Mr. Franklin ; "they said they w^ould follow 
me in a fly. Superintendent Seegrave, of your local police 
force, and two of his men. A mere form ! The case is hope- 
less." 

"What! have the Indians escaped, sir?" I asked. 

94 



THE MOONSTONE 

"The poor ill-used Indians have been most unjustly put in 
prison," says Mr. Franklin. "They are as innocent as the 
babe unborn. My idea that one of them was hidden in the 
house has ended, like all the rest of my ideas, in smoke. It's 
been proved," says Mr. Franklin, dwelling with great relish 
on his own incapacity, "to be simply impossible." 

After astonishing us by announcing this totally new turn 
in the matter of the Moonstone, our young gentleman, at his 
aunt's request, took a seat, and explained himself. 

It appeared that the resolute side of him had held out as 
far as Frizinghall. He had put the whole case plainly before 
the magistrate, and the magistrate had at once sent for the 
police. The first inquiries instituted about the Indians showed 
that they had not so much as attempted to leave the town. 
Further questions addressed to the police proved that all three 
had been seen returning to Frizinghall with their boy, on 
the previous night betvv'een ten and eleven — which, regard 
being had to hours and distances, also proved that they had 
walked straight back after performing on our terrace. Later 
still, at midnight, the police having occasion to search the 
common lodging-house where they lived, had seen them all 
three again, and their little boy with them as usual. Soon 
after midnight I myself had safely shut up the house. Plainer 
evidence than this, in favor of the Indians, there could not 
well be. The magistrate said there was not even a case of 
suspicion against them, so far. But, as it was just possible, 
when the police came to investigate the matter, that discov- 
eries afifecting the jugglers might be made, he would con- 
trive, by committing them as rogues and vagabonds, to keep 
them at our disposal, under lock and key, for a week. They 
had ignorantly done something, I forgot what, in the town 
which barely brought them within the operation of the law. 
Every human institution, Justice included, will stretch a little, 
if you only pull it the right way. The worthy magistrate 
was an old friend of my lady's — and the Indian lot were 
"committed" for a week, as soon as the court opened that 
morning. 

Such was Mr. Franklin's narrative of events at Frizing- 
hall. The Indian clue to the mystery of the lost jewel was 
now, to all appearance, a clue that had broken in our hands. 

95 



THE MOONSTONE 

If the jugglers were innocent, who, in the name of wonder, 
had taken the Moonstone out of Miss Rachel's drawer? 

Ten minutes later, to our infinite relief, Superintendent 
Seegrave arrived at the house. He reported passing Mr. 
Franklin on the terrace, sitting in the sun, I suppose with the 
Italian side of him uppermost ; and warning the police, as 
they went by, that the investigation was hopeless, before the 
investigation had begun. 

For a family in our situation, the Superintendent of the 
Frizinghall police was the most comforting officer you could 
wish to see. Mr. Seegrave was tall and portly and military 
in his manners. He had a fine commanding voice and a 
mighty resolute eye and a grand frock-coat which buttoned 
beautifully up to his leather stock. "Fm the man you want!" 
was written all over his face ; and he ordered his two inferior 
policemen about with a severity which convinced us all that 
there was no trifling with him. 

He began by going round the premises, outside and in ; 
the result of that investigation proving to him that no thieves 
had broken in upon us from outside, and that the robbery, 
consequently, must have been committed by some person in 
the house. I leave you to imagine the state the servants were 
in when this official announcement first reached their ears. 
The Superintendent decided to begin by examining the bou- 
doir; and, that done, to examine the servants next. At the 
same time he posted one of his men on the staircase which 
led to the servants' bedrooms, with instructions to let nobody 
in the house pass him till further orders. 

At this latter proceeding the weaker half of the human 
family went distracted on the spot. They bounced out of 
their corners ; whisked up stairs in a body to Miss Rachel's 
room, Rosanna Spearman being carried away among them 
this time ; burst in on Superintendent Seegrave ; and all look- 
ing equally guilty, summoned him to say which of them he 
svispected, at once, 

Mr. Superintendent proved equal to the occasion — he 
looked at them with his resolute eye and he cowed them with 
his military voice. "Now, then, you women, go down stairs 
again, every one of you. I won't have you here. Look !" 
says Mr. Superintendent, suddenly pointing to a little smear 

96 



THE MOONSTONE 

of the decorative painting on Miss Rachel's door — at the 
outer edge, just under the lock. "Look what mischief the 
petticoats of some of you have done already. Clear out ! clear 
out !" Rosanna Spearman, who was nearest to him, and 
nearest to the little smear on the door, set the example of 
obedience, and slipped off instantly to her work. The rest 
followed her out. The Superintendent finished his examina- 
tion of the room ; and, making nothing of it, asked me who 
had first discovered the robbery. My daughter had first dis- 
covered it. My daughter was sent for. 

Mr. Superintendent proved to be a little too sharp with 
Penelope at starting. "Now, young woman, attend to me — 
and mind you speak the truth." Penelope fired up instantly, 
"Fve never been taught to tell lies, Mr. Policeman ! — and if 
father can stand there and hear me accused of falsehood and 
thieving, and my own bedroom shut against me, and my 
character taken away, which is all a poor girl has left, he's 
not the good father I take him for !" A timely word from 
me put Justice and Penelope on a pleasanter footing together. 
The questions and answers went swimmingly, and ended in 
nothing worth mentioning. My daughter had seen Miss 
Rachel put the Diamond in the drawer of the cabinet, the last 
thing at night. She had gone in with Miss Rachel's cup of 
tea, at eight the next morning, and had found the drawer 
open and empty. Upon that she had alarmed the house — 
and there was an end of Penelope's evidence. 

Mr. Superintendent next asked to see Miss Rachel herself. 
Penelope mentioned his request through the door. The 
answer reached us by the same road, "I have nothing to tell 
the policemen — I can't see any body." Our experienced offi- 
cer looked equally surprised and offended when he heard 
that reply. I told him my young lady was ill, and begged him 
to wait a little and see her later. We thereupon went down 
stairs again ; and were met by Mr. Godfrey and Mr. Franklin 
crossing the hall. 

The two gentlemen, being inmates of the house, were sum- 
moned to say if they could throw any light on the matter. 
Neither of them knew any thing about it. Had they heard 
any suspicious noises during the previous night? They had 
heard nothing but the pattering of the rain. Had I, lying 
7 97 



THE MOONSTONE 

awake longer than either of them, heard nothing either? 
Nothing ! Released from examination, Mr. Franklin, still 
sticking to the helpless view of our difficulty, whispered to 
me : "That man will be of no earthly use to us. Superin- 
tendent Seegrave is an ass." Released in his turn, Mr. God- 
frey whispered to me, "Evidently a most competent person. 
Betteredge, I have the greatest faith in him !" Many men, 
many opinions, as one of the ancients said, before my time, 

Mr, Superintendent's next proceeding took him back to 
the "boudoir" again, with my daughter and me at his heels. 
His object was to discover whether any of the furniture had 
been moved during the night out of its customary place — 
his previous investigation in the room having, apparently, 
not gone quite far enough to satisfy his mind on this point. 

While we were still poking about among the chairs and 
tables the door of the bedroom was suddenly opened. After 
having denied herself to every body, Miss Rachel, to our 
astonishment, walked into the midst of us of her own accord. 
She took up her garden hat from a chair and then went 
straight to Penelope with this question : 

"Mr. Franklin Blake sent you with a message to me this 
morning?" 

"Yes, miss." 

"He wished to speak to me, didn't he?" 

"Yes, miss." 

"Where is he now?" 

Hearing voices on the terrace below, I looked out of win- 
dow, and saw the two gentlemen walking up and down 
together. Answering for my daughter, I said, "Mr. Franklin 
is on the terrace, miss." 

Without another word, without heeding Mr. Superinten- 
dent, who tried to speak to her, pale as death, and wrapped 
up strangely in her own thoughts, she left the room, and went 
down to her cousins on the terrace. 

It showed a want of due respect, it showed a breach of 
good manners, on my part ; but, for the life of me, I couldn't 
help looking out of window when Miss Rachel met the gentle- 
men outside. She went up to Mr. Franklin without appear- 
ing to notice Mr. Godfrey, who thereupon drew back and 
left them by themselves. What she said to Mr. Franklin 

98 



THE MOONSTONE 

appeared to be spoken vehemently. It lasted but for a short 
time; and, judging by what I saw of his face from the win- 
dow, seemed to astonish him beyond all power of expression. 
While they were still together my lady appeared on the ter- 
race. Miss Rachel saw her — said a few last words to Mr, 
Franklin — and suddenly went back into the house again, 
before her mother came up with her. My lady, surprised 
herself, and noticing Mr. Franklin's surprise, spoke to him. 
Mr. Godfrey joined them, and spoke also. Mr. Franklin 
walked away a little, between the two, telling them what had 
happened, I suppose ; for they both stopped short, after taking 
a few steps, like persons struck with amazement. I had just 
seen as much as this when the door of the sitting-room was 
opened violently. Miss Rachel walked swiftly through to 
her bedroom, wild and angry, with fierce eyes and flaming 
cheeks. Mr. Superintendent once more attempted to ques- 
tion her. She turned round on him at her bedroom door, 
"I have not sent for you !" she cried out, vehemently, "I don't 
want you. My Diamond is lost. Neither you nor any body 
will ever find it!" With those words she went in and 
locked the door in our faces. Penelope, standing near- 
est to it, heard her burst out crying the moment she was 
alone again. 

In a rage one moment, in tears the next ! What did it 
mean? 

I told the Superintendent it meant that Miss Rachel's 
temper was upset by the loss of her jewel. Being anxious 
for the honor of the family, it distressed me to see my young 
lady forget herself — even with a police ofiicer — and I made 
the best excuse I could, accordingly. In my own private 
mind I was more puzzled by Miss Rachel's extraordinary 
language and conduct than words can tell. Taking what 
she had said at her bedroom door as a guide to guess by, I 
could only conclude that she was mortally offended by our 
sending for the police and that Mr. Franklin's astonishment 
on the terrace was caused by her having expressed herself 
to him, as the person chiefly instrumental in fetching the 
police, to that effect. If this guess was right, why — having 
lost her Diamond — should she object to the presence in the 
house of the very people whose business it was to recover 

99 



THE MOONSTONE 

it for her? And how, in Heaven's name, could she know 
that the Moonstone would never be found again ? 

As things stood at present no answer to those questions 
was to be hoped for from any body in the house. Mr. Frank- 
lin appeared to think it a point of honor to forbear repeating 
to a servant — even to so old a servant as I was — what Miss 
Rachel had said to him on the terrace. Mr. Godfrey, who, 
as a gentleman and a relative, had been probably admitted 
into Mr. Franklin's confidence, respected that confidence as 
he was bound to do. My lady, who was also in the secret, 
no doubt, and who alone had access to Miss Rachel, owned 
openly that she could make nothing of her. "You madden 
me when you talk of the Diamond !" All her mother's influ- 
ence failed to extract from her a word more than that. 

Here we were, then, at a dead-lock about Miss Rachel — 
and at a dead-lock about the Moonstone. In the first case, 
my lady was powerless to help us. In the second, as you 
shall presently judge, Mr. Seegrave was fast approaching the 
condition of a superintendent at his wit's end. 

Having ferreted about all over the "boudoir," without 
making any discoveries among the furniture, our experienced 
officer applied to me to know whether the servants in general 
were or were not acquainted with the place in which the Dia- 
mond had been put for the night. 

"I knew where it was put, sir," I said, "to begin with, 
Samuel, the footman, knew also — for he was present in the 
hall when they were talking about where the Diamond was 
to be kept that night. My daughter knew, as she has already 
told you. She or Samuel may have mentioned the thing to 
the other servants — or the other servants may have heard the 
talk for themselves, through the side-door of the hall, which 
might have been open to the back staircase. For all I can 
tell, every body in the house may have known where the jewel 
was last night." 

My answer presenting rather a wide field for Mr. Superin- 
tendent's suspicions to range over, he tried to narrow it by 
asking about the servants' characters next. 

I thought directly of Rosanna Spearman. But it was 
neither my place nor my wish to direct suspicion against a 
poor girl whose honesty had been above all doubt as long as 



THE MOONSTONE 

I had known her. The matron at the Reformatory had re- 
ported her to my lady as a sincerely penitent and thoroughly 
trustworthy girl. It was the Superintendent's business to 
discover reason for suspecting her first — and then, and not 
till then, it would be my duty to tell him how she came into 
my lady's service. "All our people have excellent characters," 
I said. "And all have deserved the trust their mistress has 
placed in them." After that there was but one thing left for 
Mr. Seegrave to do — namely, to set to work and tackle the 
servants' characters himself. 

One after another they were examined. One after another 
they proved to have nothing to say — and said it, so far as 
the women were concerned, at great length, and with a very 
angry sense of the embargo laid on their bedrooms. The 
rest of them being sent back to their places down stairs, 
Penelope was then summoned and examined separately a 
second time. 

My daughter's little outbreak of temper in the "boudoir," 
and her readiness to think herself suspected, appeared to 
have produced an unfavorable impression on Superintendent 
Seegrave. It seemed also to dwell a little on his mind that 
she had been the last person who saw the Diamond at night. 
When the second questioning was over my girl came back 
to me in a frenzy. There was no doubt of it any longer — 
the police officer had almost as good as told her she was the 
thief ! I could scarcely believe him, taking Mr. Franklin's 
view, to be quite such an ass as that. But, though he said 
nothing, the eye with which he looked at my daughter was 
not a pleasant eye to see. I laughed it off with poor Penelope, 
as something too ridiculous to be treated seriously — which 
it certainly was. Secretly, I am afraid I was foolish enough 
to be angry too. It was a little trying — it was indeed. My 
girl sat down in a corner with her apron over her head, quite 
broken-hearted. Foolish of her, you will say : she might have 
waited till he openly accused her. Well, being a man of just 
and equal temper, I admit that. Still Mr. Superintendent 
might have remembered — never mind what he might have 
remembered. The devil take him ! 

The next and last step in the investigation brought mat- 
ters, as they say, to a crisis. The officer had an interview, 



THE MOONSTONE 

at which I was present, with my lady. After informing her 
that the Diamond must have been taken by somebody in the 
house, he requested permission for himself and his men 
to search the servants' rooms and boxes on the spot. My 
good mistress, like the generous, high-bred woman she was, 
refused to let us be treated like thieves. "I will never 
consent to make such a return as that," she said, "for 
all I owe to the faithful servants who are employed in my 
house." 

Mr. Superintendent made his bow, with a look in my direc- 
tion, which said plainly, "Why employ me if you are to tie 
my hands in this way?" As head of the servants, I felt 
directly that we were bound, in justice to all parties, not to 
profit by our mistress's generosity. "We gratefully thank 
your ladyship," I said ; "but we ask permission to do what 
is right in this matter by giving up our keys. When Gabriel 
Betteredge sets the example," says I, stopping Superin- 
tendent Seegrave at the door, "the rest of the servants will 
follow, I promise you. There are my keys, to begin with !" 
My lady took me by the hand, and thanked me with the 
tears in her eyes. Lord ! what would I not have given, at 
that moment, for the privilege of knocking Superintendent 
Seegrave down ! 

As I had promised for them, the other servants followed 
my lead, sorely against the grain, of course, but all taking 
the view that I took. The women were a sight to see, while 
the police officers were rummaging among their things. The 
cook looked as if she could grill Mr. Superintendent alive on 
a furnace, and the other women looked as if they could eat 
him when he was done. 

The search over, and no Diamond or sign of a Diamond 
being found, of course, anywhere. Superintendent Seegrave 
retired to my little room to consider with himself what he 
was to do next. He and his men had now been hours in the 
house, and had not advanced us one inch toward a discovery 
of how the Moonstone had been taken, or of whom we were 
to suspect as the thief. 

While the police officer was still pondering in solitude, I 
was sent for to see Mr. Franklin in the library. To my un- 
utterable astonishment, just as my hand was on the door it 



THE MOONSTONE 

was suddenly opened from the inside, and out walked Ro- 
sanna Spearman ! 

After the library had been swept and cleaned in the morn- 
ing, neither first nor second house-maid had any business in 
that room at any later period of the day. I stopped Rosanna 
Spearman, and charged her with a breach of domestic dis- 
cipline on the spot. 

"What might you want in the library at this time of day?" 
I inquired. 

"Mr. Franklin Blake dropped one of his rings up stairs," 
says Rosanna ; "and I have been into the library to give it 
to him." The girl's face was all in a flush as she made me 
that answer ; and she walked away with a toss of her head 
and a look of self-importance which I was quite at a loss to 
account for. The proceedings in the house had doubtless 
upset all the women-servants more or less; but none of them 
had gone clean out of their natural characters, as Rosanna, 
to all appearance, had now gone out of hers. 

I found Mr. Franklin writing at the library-table. He 
asked for a conveyance to the railway station the moment I 
entered the room. The first sound of his voice informed me 
that we now had the resolute side of him uppermost once 
more. The man made of cotton had disappeared ; and the 
man made of iron sat before me again. 

"Going to London, sir?" I asked. 

"Going to telegraph to London," says Mr. Franklin. "I 
have convinced my aunt that we must have a cleverer head 
than Superintendent Seegrave's to help us ; and I have got 
her permission to dispatch a telegram to my father. He 
knows the Chief Commissioner of Police, and the Commis- 
sioner can lay his hand on the right man to solve the mys- 
tery of the Diamond. Talking of mysteries, by-the-bye," says 
Mr. Franklin, dropping his voice, "I have another word to 
say to you before you go to the stables. Don't breathe a 
word of it to any body as yet ; but either Rosanna Spear- 
man's head is not quite right, or I am afraid she knows more 
about the Moonstone than she ought to know." 

I can hardly tell whether I was more startled or distressed 
at hearing him say that. If I had been younger, I might 
have confessed as much to Mr. Franklin. But when you 

103 



THE MOONSTONE 

are old, you acquire one excellent habit. In cases where 
you don't see your way clearly, you hold your tongue. 

"She came in here with a ring I dropped in my bedroom," 
Mr. Franklin went on. "When I had thanked her, of course 
I expected her to go. Instead of that she stood opposite to 
me at the table, looking at me in the oddest manner — half 
frightened, and half familiar — I couldn't make it out. 'This 
is a strange thing about the Diamond, sir,' she said, in a 
curiously sudden, headlong way. I said, Yes it was, and 
wondered what was coming next. Upon my honor. Better- 
edge, I think she must be wrong in the head ! She said, 'They 
will never find the Diamond, sir, will they ? No ! nor the 
person who took it — I'll answer for that.' She actually nod- 
ded and smiled at me ! Before I could ask her what she 
meant we heard your step outside. I suppose she was afraid 
of your catching her here. At any rate, she changed color 
and left the room. What on earth does it mean?" 

I could not bring myself to tell him the girl's story even 
then. It would have been almost as good as telling him that 
she was the thief. Besides, even if I had made a clean breast 
of it, and even supposing she was the thief, the reason why 
she should let out her secret to Mr. Franklin, of all the 
people in the world, would have been still as far to seek as 
ever. 

"I can't bear the idea of getting the poor girl into a 
scrape, merely because she has a flighty way with her, and 
talks very strangely," Mr. Fianklin went on. "And yet, if 
she had said to the Superintendent what she said to me, fool 
as he is, I'm afraid — " He stopped there, and left the rest 
unspoken. 

"The best way, sir," I said, "will be for me to say two 
words privately to my mistress about it at the first oppor- 
tunity. My lady has a very friendly interest in Rosanna ; 
and the girl may only have been forward and foolish, after 
all. When there's a mess of any kind in a house, sir, the 
women-servants like to look at the gloomy side — it gives the 
poor wretches a kind of importance in their own eyes. If 
there's any body ill, trust the women for prophesying that 
the person will die. If it's a jewel lost, trust them for 
prophesying that it will never be found again," 

104 



THE MOONSTONE 

This view, which I am bound to say I thought a probable 
view myself on reflection, seemed to relieve Mr. Franklin 
mightily ; he folded up his telegram and dismissed the sub- 
ject. On my way to the stables to order the pony-chaise I 
looked in at the servants' hall where they were at dinner. 
Rosanna Spearman was not among them. On inquiry I found 
that she had been suddenly taken ill, and had gone up stairs 
to her own room to lie down. 

"Curious ! She looked well enough when I saw her last," 
I remarked. 

Penelope followed me out. "Don't talk in that way before 
the rest of them, father," she said. "You only make them 
harder on Rosanna than ever. The poor thing is breaking 
her heart about Mr. Franklin Blake." 

Here was another view of the girl's conduct. If it was 
possible for Penelope to be right, the explanation of Ro- 
sanna's strange language and behavior might have been all 
in this — that she didn't care what she said so long as she 
could surprise Mr. Franklin into speaking to her. Granting 
that to be the right reading of the riddle, it accounted, per- 
haps, for her flighty self-conceited manner when she passed 
me in the hall. Though he had only said three words still 
she had carried her point, and Mr. Franklin had spoken to 
her. 

I saw the pony harnessed myself. In the infernal net- 
work of mysteries and uncertainties that now surrounded us, 
I declare it was a relief to observe how well the buckles and 
straps understood each other ! When you had seen the pony 
backed into the shafts of the chaise you had seen something 
there was no doubt about. And that, let me tell you, was 
becoming a treat of the rarest kind in our household. 

Going round with the chaise to the front door, I found 
not only Mr. Franklin, but Mr. Godfrey and Superintendent 
Seegrave also, waiting for me on the steps. 

Mr. Superintendent's reflections, after failing to find the 
Diamond in the servants' rooms or boxes, had led him, it 
appeared, to an entirely new conclusion. Still sticking to 
his first text, namely, that somebody in the house had stolen 
the jewel, our experienced officer was now of opinion that 
the thief, he was wise enough not to name poor Penelope, 

i°5 



THE MOONSTONE 

whatever he might privately think of her, had been acting 
in concert with the Indians; and he accordingly proposed 
shifting his inquiries to the jugglers in the prison at Frizing- 
hall. Hearing of this new move, Mr. Franklin had volun- 
teered to take the Superintendent back to the town, from 
which he could telegraph to London as easily as from our 
station. Mr. Godfrey, still devoutly believing in Mr. See- 
grave, and greatly interested in witnessing the examination 
of the Indians, had begged leave to accompany the officer to 
Frizinghall. One of the two inferior policemen was to be 
left at the house in case any thing happened. The other was 
to go back with the Superintendent to the town. So the four 
places in the pony-chaise were just filled. 

Before he took the reins to drive off, Mr. Franklin walked 
me away a few steps out of hearing of the others. 

"I will wait to telegraph to London," he said, "till I see 
what comes of our examination of the Indians. My own 
conviction is, that this muddle-headed local police officer is 
as much in the dark as ever, and is simply trying to gain 
time. The idea of any of the servants being in league with 
the Indians is a preposterous absurdity, in my opinion. Keep 
about the house, Betteredge, till I come back, and try what 
you can make of Rosanna Spearman. I don't ask you to do 
any thing degrading to your own self-respect, or any thing 
cruel toward the girl. I only ask you to exercise your obser- 
vation more carefully than usual. We will make as light of 
it as we can before my aunt ; but this is a more important 
matter than you may suppose." 

"It's a matter of twenty thousand pounds, sir," I said, 
thinking of the value of the Diamond. 

"It's a matter of quieting Rachel's mind," answered Mr. 
Franklin, gravely. "I am very uneasy about her." 

He left me suddenly, as if he desired to cut short any 
further talk between us. I thought I understood why. Fur- 
ther talk might have let me into the secret of what Miss 
Rachel had said to him on the terrace. 

So they drove away to Frizinghall. I was ready enough, 
in the girl's own interest, to have a little talk with Rosanna 
in private. But the needful opportunity failed to present 
itself. She only came down stairs again at tea-time. When 

jo6 



THE MOONSTONE 

she did appear she was flighty and excited, had what they 
call an hysterical attack, took a dose of sal volatile by my 
lady's order, and was sent back to her bed. 

The day wore on to its end drearily and miserably enough, 
I can tell you. Miss Rachel still kept her room, declaring 
that she was too ill to come down to dinner that day. My 
lady was in such low spirits about her daughter that I could 
not bring myself to make her additionally anxious by report- 
ing what Rosanna Spearman had said to Mr. Franklin. 
Penelope persisted in believing that she was to be forthwith 
tried, sentenced, and transported for theft. The other women 
took to their Bibles and hymn-books and looked as sour as 
verjuice over their reading — a result which I have observed, 
in my sphere of life, to follow generally on the performance 
of acts of piety at unaccustomed periods of the day. As for 
me, I hadn't even heart enough to open my Robinson Crusoe. 
I went out into the yard, and being hard up for a little cheer- 
ful society, set my chair by the kennels and talked to the dogs. 

Half an hour before dinner-time the two gentlemen came 
back from Frizinghall, having arranged with Superintendent 
Seegrave that he was to return to us the next day. They 
had called on Mr. Murthwaite, the Indian traveler, at his 
present residence, near the town. At Mr. Franklin's request 
he had kindly given them the benefit of his knowledge of 
the language, in dealing with those two, out of the three 
Indians, who knew nothing of English. The examination, 
conducted carefully, and at great length, had ended in noth- 
ing ; not the shadow of a reason being discovered for suspect- 
ing the jugglers of having tampered with any of our servants. 
On reaching that conclusion Mr. Franklin had sent his tele- 
graphic message to London, and there the matter now rested 
till to-morrow came. 

So much for the history of the day that followed the birth- 
day. Not a glimmer of light had broken in on us so far. A 
day or two after, however, the darkness lifted a little. How, 
and with what result, you shall presently see. 



107 



' THE MOONSTONE 



CHAPTER XH. 

THE Thursday night passed, and nothing happened. 
With the Fjiday morning came two pieces of news. 

Item the first : The baker's man declared he had met 
Rosanna Spearman, on the previous afternoon, with a thick 
veil on, walking toward Frizinghall by the foot-path way 
over the moor. It seemed strange that any body should be 
mistaken about Rosanna, whose shoulder marked her out 
pretty plainly, poor thing — but mistaken the man must have 
been ; for Rosanna, as you know, had been all the Thursday 
afternoon ill up stairs in her room. 

Item the second came through the postman. Worthy Mr. 
Candy had said one more of his many unlucky things, when 
he drove off in the rain on the birthday night, and told me 
that a doctor's skin was water-proof. In spite of his skin 
the wet had got through him. He had caught a chill that 
night and was now down with a fever. The last accounts, 
brought by the postman, represented him to be light-headed — 
talking nonse^ise as glibly, poor man, in his delirium as he 
often talked it in his sober sense. We were all sorry for the 
little doctor; but Mr. Franklin appeared to regret his ill- 
ness chiefly on Miss Rachel's account. From what he 
said to my lady while I was in the room at breakfast- 
time, he appeared to think that Miss Rachel — if the sus- 
pense about the Moonstone was not soon set at rest — 
might stand in urgent need of the best medical advice at our 
disposal. 

Breakfast had not been over long when a telegram from 
Mr. Blake, the elder, arrived in answer to his son. It in- 
formed us that he had laid hands, by help of his friend the 
Commissioner, on the right man to help us. The name of 
him was Sergeant Cuff, and the arrival of him from London 
might be expected by the morning train. 

At reading the name of the new police officer Mr. Franklin 
gave a start. It seems that he had heard some curious anec- 
dotes about Sergeant Cuff from his father's lawyer during 
his stay in London. "I begin to hope we are seeing the end 
of our anxieties already," he said. "If half the stories I have 

1 08 



THE MOONSTONE 

heard are true, when it comes to unraveling a mystery there 
isn't the equal in England of Sergeant Cuff!" 

We all got excited and impatient as the time drew near 
for the appearance of this renowned and capable character. 
Superintendent Seegrave returning to us ,at his appointed 
time, and hearing that the Sergeant was expected, instantly 
shut himself up in a room, with pen, ink, and paper, to make 
notes of the report which would be certainly expected from 
him. I should have liked to have gone to the station myself 
to fetch the Sergeant. But my lady's carriage and horses 
were not to be thought of, even for the celebrated Cuff; and 
the pony-chaise was required later for Mr. Godfrey. He 
deeply regretted being obliged to leave his aunt at such an 
anxious time ; and he kindly put off the hour of his departure 
till as late as the last train, for the purpose of hearing what 
tjie clever London police officer thought of the case. But on 
Friday night he must be in town, having a Ladies' Charity, 
in difficulties, waiting to consult him on Saturday morning. 

When the time came for the Sergeant's arrival I went 
down to the gate to look out for him. 

A fly from the railway drove up as I reached the lodge; 
and out got a grizzled, elderly man, so miserably lean that 
he looked as if he had not got an ounce of flesh on his bones 
in any part of him. He was dressed all in decent black, with 
a white cravat round his neck. His face was as sharp as a 
hatchet, and the skin of it was as yellow and dry and withered 
as an autumn leaf. His eyes, of a steely, light gray, had a 
very disconcerting trick, when they encountered your eyes, 
of looking as if they expected something more from you than 
you were aware of yourself. His walk was soft ; his voice 
was melancholy ; his long lanky fingers were hooked like 
claws. He might have been a parson, or an undertaker, or 
any thing else you like, except what he really was. A more 
complete opposite to Superintendent Seegrave than Sergeant 
Cuff, and a less comforting officer to look at for a family in 
distress, I defy you to discover, search where you may. 

"Is this Ladv Verinder's ?" he asked. 

"Yes, sir." 

"I am Sergeant Cuff." 

"This way, sir, if you please." 

109 



THE MOONSTONE 

On our road to the house I mentioned my name and posi- 
tion in the family, to satisfy him that he might speak to me 
about the business on which my lady was to employ him. 
Not a word did he say about the business, however, for all 
that. He admired the grounds, and remarked that he felt 
the sea-air very brisk and refreshing. I privately wondered, 
on my side, how the celebrated Cuff had got his reputation. 
We reached the house in the temper of two strange dogs, 
coupled up together for the first time in their lives by the 
same chain. 

Asking for my lady and hearing that she was in one of 
the conservatories, we went round to the gardens at the back 
and sent a servant to seek her. While we were waiting 
Sergeant Cuff looked through the evergreen arch on our left, 
spied out our rosery, and walked straight in, with the first 
appearance of any thing like interest that he had shown yet. 
To the gardener's astonishment, and to my disgust, this cele- 
brated policeman proved to be quite a mine of learning on the 
trumpery subject of rose-gardens. 

"Ah, you've got the right exposure here to the south and 
sou'west," says the Sergeant, with a wag of his grizzled 
head and a streak of pleasure in his melancholy voice. "This 
is the shape for a rosery — nothing like a circle set in a square. 
Yes, yes ; with walks between all the beds. But they oughtn't 
to be gravel-walks like these. Grass, Mr. Gardener — grass- 
walks between your roses ; gravel's too hard for them. That's 
a sweet pretty bed of white roses and blush roses. They 
always mix well together, don't they? Here's the white 
musk-rose, Mr. Betteredge — our old English rose holding up 
his head along with the best and the newest of them. Pretty 
dear !" says the Sergeant, fondling the musk-rose with his 
lanky fingers, and speaking to it as if he was speaking to a 
child. 

This was a nice sort of man to recover Miss Rachel's Dia- 
mond, and to find out the thief who stole it ! 

"You seem to be fond of roses, Sergeant?" I remarked. 

"I haven't much time to be fond of any thing," says Ser- 
geant Cuff. "But, when I have a moment's fondness to be- 
stow, most times, Mr. Betteredge, the roses get it. I began 
my life among them in my father's nursery garden, and I 

no 



THE MOONSTONE 

shall end my life among them if I can. Yes, One of these 
days, please God, I shall retire from catching thieves, and 
try my hand at growing roses. There will be grass-walks, 
Mr. Gardener, between my beds," says the Sergeant, on 
whose mind the gravel-paths of a rosery seemed to dwell 
unpleasantly. 

"It seems an odd taste, sir," I ventured to say, "for a man 
in your line of life." 

"If you will look about you, which most people won't do," 
says Sergeant Cuff, "you will see that the nature of a man's 
tastes is, most times, as opposite as possible to the nature of 
a man's business. Show me any two things more opposite 
one from the other than a rose and a thief, and I'll correct 
my tastes accordingly — if it isn't too late at my time of life. 
You find the damask-rose a goodish stock for most of the 
tender sorts, don't you, Mr. Gardener? Ah! I thought so. 
Here's a lady coming. Is it Lady Verinder?" 

He had seen her before either I or the gardener had seen 
her — though we knew which way to look, and he didn't. I 
began to think him rather a quicker man than he appeared 
to be at first sight.- 

The Sergeant's appearance, or the Sergeant's errand — one 
or both — seemed to cause my lady some little embarrassment. 
She was, for the first time in all my experience of her, at a 
loss what to say at an interview with a stranger. Sergeant 
Cuff put her at her ease directly. He asked if any other 
person had been employed about the robbery before we sent 
for him ; and hearing that another person had been called 
in, and was now in the house, begged leave to speak to him 
before any thing else was done. 

My lady led the way back. Before he followed her, the 
Sergeant relieved his mind on the subject of the gravel- 
walks by a parting word to the gardener. "Get her ladyship 
to try grass," he said, with a sour look at the paths, "No 
gravel ! no gravel !" 

Why Superintendent Seegrave should have appeared to 
be several sizes smaller than life, on being presented to Ser- 
geant Cuff, I can't undertake to explain. I can only state 
the fact. They retired together ; and remained a weary long 
time shut up from all mortal intrusion. When they came 



THE MOONSTONE 

out Mr. Superintendent was excited and Mr. Sergeant was 
yawning. 

"The Sergeant wishes to see Miss Verinder's sitting-room," 
says Mr. Seegrave, addressing me with great pomp and 
eagerness. "The Sergeant may have some questions to ask. 
Attend the Sergeant, if you please !" 

While I was being ordered about in this way, I looked 
at the great Cuff. The great Cuff, on his side, looked at 
Superintendent Seegrave in that quietly expecting way which 
I have already noticed. I can't affirm that he was on the 
watch for his brother-officer's speedy appearance in the char- 
acter of an Ass — I can only say that I strongly suspected it. 

I led the way up stairs. The Sergeant went softly all over 
the Indian cabinet and all round the "boudoir" ; asking ques- 
tions, occasionally only of Mr. Superintendent, and continu- 
ally of me, the drift of which I believe to have been equally 
unintelligible to both of us. In due time his course brought 
him to the door, and put him face to face with the decorative 
painting that you know of. He laid one lean inquiring finger 
on the small smear, just under the lock, which Superintendent 
Seegrave had already noticed when he reproved the women- 
servants for all crowding together into the room. 

"That's a pity," says Sergeant Cuff. "How did it happen?" 

He put the question to me. I answered that the women- 
servants had crowded into the room on the previous morn- 
ing and that some of their petticoats had done the mischief. 
"Superintendent Seegrave ordered them out, sir," I added, 
"before they did any more harm." 

"Right !" says Mr. Superintendent, in his military way. 
"I ordered them out. The petticoats did it. Sergeant — the 
petticoats did it." 

"Did you notice which petticoat did it?" asked Sergeant 
Cuff, still addressing himself, not to his brother-officer, but 
to me. 

"No, sir." 

He turned to Superintendent Seegrave upon that, and said, 
"You noticed, I suppose?" 

Mr. Superintendent looked a little taken aback ; but he 
made the best of it. "I can't charge my memory. Sergeant," 
he said, "a mere trifle — a mere trifle." 



THE MOONSTONE 

Sergeant Cuff looked at Mr. Seegrave as he had looked at 
the gravel-walks in the rosery, and gave us, in his melancholy 
way, the first taste of his quality which we had had yet. 

"I made a private inquiry last week, Mr. Superintendent," 
he said. "At one end of the inquiry there was a murder, 
and at the other end there was a spot of ink on u table-cloth 
that nobody could account for. In all my experience along 
the dirtiest ways of this dirty little world I have never met 
with such a thing as a trifle yet. Before we go a step farther 
in this business we must see the petticoat that made the smear, 
and we must know for certain when that paint was wet." 

Mr, Superintendent — taking his set-down rather sulkily — 
asked if he should summon the women. Sergeant Cuff, after 
considering a minute, sighed, and shook his head. 

*'No," he said, "we'll take the matter of the paint first. 
It's a question of Yes or No with the paint — which is short. 
It's a question of petticoats with the woman — which is long. 
What o'clock was it when the servants were in this room 
yesterday morning ? Eleven o'clock — eh ? Is there any body 
in the house who knows whether that paint was wet or dry, 
at eleven yesterday morning?" 

"Her ladyship's nephew, Mr. Franklin Blake, knows," I 
said. 

"Is the gentleman in the house?" 

Mr. Franklin was as close at hand as could be — waiting 
for his first chance of being introduced to the great Cuff. 
In half a minute he was in the room, and was giving his 
evidence as follows : 

"That door, Sergeant," he said, "has been painted by Miss 
Verinder, under my inspection, with my help, and in a vehicle 
of my own composition. The vehicle dries whatever colors 
may be used with it in twelve hours." 

"Do you remember when the smeared bit was done, sir?" 
asked the Sergeant. 

"Perfectly," answered Mr. Franklin. "That was the last 
morsel of the door to be finished. We wanted to get it done 
on Wednesday last, and I myself completed it by three in the 
afternoon, or soon after." 

"To-day is Friday," said Sergeant Cuff, addressing him- 
self to Superintendent Seegrave. "Let us reckon back, sir. 
8 112 



THE MOONSTONE 

At three on the Wednesday afternoon, that bit of painting 
was completed. The vehicle dried it in twelve hours — that 
is to say, dried it by three o'clock on Thursday morning. At 
eleven on Thursday morning you held your inquiry here. 
Take three from eleven and eight remains. That paint had 
been eight hours dry, Mr. Superintendent, when you supposed 
that the women-servants' petticoats smeared it." 

First knock-down blow for Mr. Seegrave ! If he had not 
suspected poor Penelope, I should have pitied him. 

Having settled the question of the paint, Sergeant Cuff, 
from the moment, gave his brother-ofificer up as a bad job — 
and addressed himself to Mr. Franklin, as the more promising 
assistant of the two. 

"It's quite on the cards, sir," he said, "that you have put 
the clue into our hands." 

As the words passed his lips the bedroom door opened, 
and Miss Rachel came out among us suddenly. 

She addressed herself to the Sergeant, without appearing 
to notice, or to heed, that he was a perfect stranger to her. 

"Did you say," she asked, pointing to Mr. Franklin, "that 
he had put the clue into your hands ?" 

"This is Miss Verinder," I whispered, behind the Sergeant. 

"That gentleman, miss," says the Sergeant — with his steely- 
gray eyes carefully studying my young lady's face — "has 
possibly put the clue into our hands." 

She turned for one moment, and tried to look at Mr. Frank- 
lin. I say tried, for she suddenly looked away again before 
their eyes met. There seemed to be some strange disturb- 
ance in her mind. She colored up, and then she turned pale 
again. With the paleness there came a new look into her 
face, a look which it startled me to see. 

"Having answered your question, miss," says the Ser- 
geant, "I beg leave to make an inquiry in my turn. There 
is a smear on the painting of your door here. Do you happen 
to know when it was done or who did it?" 

Instead of making any reply. Miss Rachel went on with her 
questions as if he had not spoken, or as if she had not heard 
him. 

"Are you another police officer?" she asked. 

"I am Sergeant Cuff, miss, of the Detective Police." 

114 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Do you think a young lady's advice worth having?" 

"I shall be glad to hear it, miss." 

"Do your duty by yourself — and don't allow Mr. Franklin 
Blake to help you!" 

She said those words so spitefully, so savagely, with such 
an extraordinary outbreak of ill-will toward Mr. Franklin, 
in her voice and her look, that — though I had known her from 
a baby, though I loved and honored her next to my lady 
herself — I was ashamed of Miss Rachel for the first time in 
my life. 

Sergeant Cuff's immovable eyes never stirred from off her 
face. "Thank you, miss," he said. "Do you happen to know 
any thing about the smear? Might you have done it by acci- 
dent yourself?" 

"I know nothing about the smear." 

With that answer she turned away, and shut herself up 
again in her bedroom. This time, I heard her — as Penelope 
had heard her before — burst out crying as soon as she was 
alone again. 

I couldn't bring myself to look at the Sergeant — I looked 
at Mr. Franklin, who stood nearest to me. He seemed to be 
even more sorely distressed at what had passed than I was. 

"I told you I was uneasy about her," he said. "And now 
you see why." 

"Miss Verinder appears to be a little out of temper about 
the loss of her Diamond," remarked the Sergeant. "It's a 
valuable jewel. Natural enough ! natural enough !" 

Here was the excuse that I had made for her, when she 
forgot herself before Superintendent Seegrave, on the pre- 
vious day, being made for her over again, by a man who 
couldn't have had my interest in making it — for he was a 
perfect stranger ! A kind of cold shudder ran through me, 
which I couldn't account for at the time. I know now that 
I must have got my first suspicion, at that moment, of a new 
light, and a horrid light, having suddenly fallen on the case, 
in the mind of Sergeant Cuff — purely and entirely in conse- 
quence of what he had seen in Miss Rachel, and heard from 
Miss Rachel, at that first interview between them. 

"A young lady's tongue is a privileged member, sir," says 
the Sergeant to Mr. Franklin. "Let us forget what has 

"5 



THE MOONSTONE 

passed and go straight on with this business. Thanks to you, 
we know when the paint was dry. The next thing to discover 
is when the paint was last seen without that smear. You 
have got a head on your shoulders — and you understand what 
I mean." 

Mr. Franklin composed himself, and came back with an 
effort from Miss Rachel to the matter in hand. 

'T think I do understand," he said. "The more we narrow 
the question of time the more we also narrow the field of 
inquiry." 

"That's it, sir," said the Sergeant. "Did you notice your 
work here on the Wednesday afternoon, after you had done 
it?" 

Mr. Franklin shook his head and answered, "I can't say 
I did." 

"Did youf" inquired Sergeant Cuff, turning to me. 

"I can't say I did either, sir." 

"Who was the last person in the room, the last thing on 
Wednesday night?" 

"Miss Rachel, I suppose, sir." 

Mr. Franklin struck in there, "Or possibly your daughter, 
Betteredge." He turned to Sergeant Cuff, and explained 
that my daughter was Miss Verinder's maid. 

"Mr. Betteredge, ask your daughter to step up. Stop !" 
says the Sergeant, taking me away to the window, out of 
ear-shot. "Your Superintendent here," he went on, in a 
whisper, "has made a pretty full report to me of the manner 
in which he has managed this case. Among other things 
he has, by his own confession, set the servants' backs up. 
It's very important to smooth them down again. Tell your 
daughter, and tell the rest of them, these two things with 
my compliments : First, that I have no evidence before me, 
yet, that the Diamond has been stolen ; I only know that the 
Diamond has been lost. Second, that my business here with 
the servants is simply to ask them to lay their heads together 
and help me to find it." 

My experience of the women-servants, when Superinten- 
dent Seegrave laid his embargo on their rooms, came in handy 
here. 

"May I make so bold, Sergeant, as to tell the women a 

ii6 



THE MOONSTONE 

third thing?" I asked. "Are they free, with your compli- 
ments, to fidget up and down stairs, and whisk in and out 
of their bedrooms, if the fit takes them?" 

"Perfectly free," says the Sergeant. 

"That will smooth them down, sir," I remarked, "from 
the cook to the scullion." 

"Go and do it at once, Mr. Betteredge." 

I did it in less than five minutes. There was only one diffi- 
culty when I came to the bit about the bedrooms. It took a 
pretty stiff exertion of my authority, as chief, to prevent the 
whole of the female household from following me and Penel- 
ope up stairs, in the character of volunteer witnesses in a 
burning fever of anxiety to help Sergeant Cuff. 

The Sergeant seemed to approve of Penelope. He became 
a trifle less dreary ; and he looked much as he had looked 
when he noticed the white musk-rose in the flower-garden. 
Here is my daughter's evidence, as drawn off from her by 
the Sergeant. She gave it, I think, very prettily — but, there ! 
she is my child all over : nothing of her mother in her ; Lord 
bless you, nothing of her mother in her ! 

Penelope examined : Took a lively interest in the painting 
on the door, having helped to mix the colors. Noticed the 
bit of work under the lock, because it was the last bit done. 
Had seen it, some hours afterward, without a smear. Had 
left it, as late as twelve at night, without a smear. Had, at 
that hour, wished her young lady good-night in the bedroom ; 
had heard the clock strike in the "boudoir;" had her hand 
at the time on the handle of the painted door ; knew the paint 
was wet, having helped to mix the colors, as aforesaid; took 
particular pains not to touch it ; could swear that she held up 
the skirts of her dress, and that there was no smear on the 
paint then ; could not swear that her dress mightn't have 
touched it accidentally in going out ; remembered the dress 
she had on, because it was new, a present from Miss Rachel ; 
her father remembered, and could speak to it, too ; could, 
and would, and did fetch it ; dress recognized by her father 
as the dress she wore that night ; skirts examined, a long job 
from the size of them ; not the ghost of a paint stain discov- 
ered anywhere. End of Penelope's evidence — and very pretty 
and convincing, too. Signed, Gabriel Betteredge. 

117 



THE MOONSTONE 

The Sergeant's next proceeding was to question me about 
any large dogs in the house who might have got into the 
room, and done the mischief with a whisk of their tails. 
Hearing that this was impossible, he next sent for a magnify- 
ing-glass, and tried how the smear looked, seen that way. 
No skin-mark, as of a human hand, printed off on the paint. 
All the signs visible — signs which told that the paint had 
been smeared by some loose article of somebody's dress touch- 
ing it in going by. That somebody, putting together Penel- 
ope's evidence and Mr. Franklin's evidence, must have been 
in the room and done the mischief, between midnight and 
three o'clock on the Thursday morning. 

Having brought his investigation to this point. Sergeant 
Cuff discovered that such a person as Superintendent See- 
grave was still left in the room, upon which he summed up 
the proceedings for his brother-officer's benefit, as follows : 

"This trifle of yours, Mr. Superintendent," says the Ser- 
geant, pointing to the place on the door, "has grown a little 
in importance since you noticed it last. At the present stage 
of the inquiry there are, as I take it, three discoveries to make, 
starting from that smear. Find out, first, whether there is 
any article of dress in this house with the smear of the paint 
on it. Find out, second, who that dress belongs to. Find 
out, third, how the person can account for having been in 
this room, and smeared the paint, between midnight and three 
in the morning. If the person can't satisfy you, you haven't 
far to look for the hand that has got the Diamond. Fll work 
this by myself, if you please, and detain you no longer from 
your regular business in town. You have got one of your 
men here, I see. Leave him here at my disposal, in case I 
want him — and allow me to wish you good-morning." 

Superintendent Seegrave's respect for the Sergeant was 
great ; but his respect for himself was greater still. Hit hard 
by the celebrated Cuff, he hit back smartly, to the best of 
his ability, on leaving the room. 

"I have abstained from expressing any opinion, so far," 
says Mr. Superintendent, with his military voice still in good 
working order. "I have now only one remark to offer, on 
leaving this case in your hands. There is such a thing. Ser- 
geant, as making a mountain out of a mole-hill. Good- 
morning," 

ii8 



THE MOONSTONE 

"There is also such a thing as making nothing out of a 
mole-hill, in consequence of your head being too high to see 
it." Having returned his brother-officer's compliment in 
those terms, Sergeant Cuff wheeled about, and walked away 
to the window by himself. 

Mr. Franklin and I waited to see what was coming next. 
The Sergeant stood at the window, with his hands in his 
pockets, looking out, and whistling the tune of the Last Rose 
of Summer softly to himself. Later in the proceedings, I 
discovered that he only forgot his manners so far as to 
whistle, when his mind was hard at work, seeing its way 
inch by inch to its own private ends, on which occasions the 
Last Rose of Summer evidently helped and encouraged him. 
I suppose it fitted in somehow with his character. It re- 
minded him, you see, of his favorite roses, and, as he whistled 
it, it was the most melancholy tune going. 

Turning from the window, after a minute or two, the Ser- 
geant walked into the middle of the room, and stopped there, 
deep in thought, with his eyes on Miss Rachel's bedroom 
door. After a little he roused himself, nodded his head, as 
much as to say, "That will do !" and, addressing me, asked for 
ten minutes' conversation with my mistress at her ladyship's 
earliest convenience. 

Leaving the room with this message, I heard Mr. Franklin 
ask the Sergeant a question, and stopped to hear the answer 
also at the threshold of the door. 

"Can you guess yet," inquired Mr. Franklin, "who has 
stolen the Diamond?" 

"Nobody has stolen the Diamond/' answered Sergeant 
Cuff. 

We both started at that extraordinary view of the case, 
and both earnestly begged him to tell us what he meant. 

"Wait a little," said the Sergeant. "The pieces of the 
puzzle are not all put together yet." 



CHAPTER XHL 

I FOUND my lady in her own sitting-room. She started 
and looked annoyed when I mentioned that Sergeant Cuff 
wished to speak to her. 

119 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Must I see him?" she asked. "Can't you represent me, 
Gabriel ?" 

I felt at a loss to understand this, and showed it plainly, I 
suppose, in my face. My lady was so good as to explain 
herself. 

"I am afraid my nerves are a little shaken," she said. 
"There is something in that police officer from London which 
I recoil from — I don't know why. I have a presentiment that 
he is bringing trouble and misery with him into the house. 
Very foolish and very unlike me — but so it is." 

I hardly knew what to say to this. The more I saw of 
Sergeant Cuif the better I liked him. My lady rallied a 
little after having opened her heart to me — being nat- 
urally a woman of a high courage, as I have already told 
you. 

"If I must see him, I must," she said. "But I can't prevail 
on myself to see him alone. Bring him in, Gabriel, and stay 
here as long as he stays." 

This was the first attack of the megrims that I remembered 
in my mistress since the time wdien she was a young girl. I 
went back to the "boudoir." Mr. Franklin strolled out into 
the garden and joined Mr. Godfrey, whose time for departure 
was now drawing near. Sergeant Cuff and I went straight 
to my mistress's room. 

I declare my lady turned a shade paler at the sight of 
him ! She commanded herself, however, in other respects, 
and asked the Sergeant if he had any objection to my being 
present. She was so good as to add that I was her trusted 
adviser as well as her old servant, and that in any thing which 
related to the household I was the person whom it might be 
most profitable to consult. The Sergeant politely answered 
that he would take my presence as a favor, having something 
to say about the servants in general, and having found my 
experience in that quarter already of some use to him. My 
lady pointed to two chairs, and we set in for our conference 
immediately. 

"I have already formed an opinion on this case," says Ser- 
geant Cuff, "which I beg your ladyship's permission to keep 
to myself for the present. My business now is to mention 
what I have discovered up stairs in ]\Iiss Verinder's sitting"- 

120 



I 

it I 



THE MOONSTONE 

room, and what I have decided, with your ladyship's leave, 
on doing next." 

He. then went into the matter of the smear on the paint, 
and stated the conclusions he drew from it — just as he had 
stated them, only with greater respect of language, to Super- 
intendent Seegrave. "One thing," he said, in conclusion, 
"is certain. The Diamond is missing out of the drawer in 
the cabinet. . Another thing is next to certain. The marks 
from the smear on the door must be on some article of dress 
belonging to somebody in this house. We must discover 
that article of dress before we go a step farther." 

"And that discovery," remarked my mistress, "implies, I 
presume, the discovery of the thief?" 

'T beg your ladyship's pardon — I don't say the Diamond 
is stolen. I only say, at present, that the Diamond is missing. 
The discovery of the stained dress may lead the way to find- 
ing it." 

Her ladyship looked at me. "Do you understand this?" 
she said. 

"Sergeant Cuff understands it, my lady," I answered. 

"How do you propose to discover the stained dress?" 
inquired my mistress, addressing herself once more to the 
Sergeant. "My good servants, who have been with me for 
years, have, I am ashamed to say, had their boxes and rooms 
searched already by the other officer. I can't and won't per- 
mit them to be insulted in that way a second time." 

(There was a mistress to serve! There was a woman in 
ten thousand, if you like!) 

"That is the very point I was about to put to your lady- 
ship," said the Sergeant. "The other officer has done a 
world of harm to this inquiry by letting the servants see that 
he suspected them. If I- give them cause to think themselves 
suspected a second time, there's no knowing what obstacles 
they may not throw in my way — the women especially. At 
the same time, their boxes must be searched again — for this 
plain reason, that the first investigation only looked for the 
Diamond, and that the second investigation must look for the 
stained dress. I quite agree with you, my lady, that the ser- 
vants' feelings ought to be consulted. But I am equally clear 
that the servants' wardrobes ought to be searched." 

121 



THE MOONSTONE 

This looked very like a dead-lock. My lady said so, in 
choicer language than mine. 

"I have got a plan to meet the difficulty," said Sergeant 
Cuff, "if your ladyship will consent to it. I propose explain- 
ing the case to the servants." 

"The women will think themselves suspected directly," I 
said, interrupting him. 

"The women won't, Mr. Betteredge," answered the Ser- 
geant, "if I can tell them I am going to examine the ward- 
robes of every body — from her ladyship downward — who 
slept in the house on Wednesday night. It's a mere formal- 
ity," he added, with a side look at my mistress ; "but the 
servants will accept it as even dealing between them and 
their betters ; and, instead of hindering the investigation, they 
will make a point of honor of assisting it." 

I saw the truth of that. My lady, after her first surprise 
was over, saw the truth of it also. 

"You are certain the investigation is necessary?" she said. 

"It's the shortest way that I can see, my lady, to the end 
we have in view." 

My mistress rose to ring the bell for her maid. "You shall 
speak to the servants," she said, "with the keys of my ward- 
robe in your hand." 

Sergeant Cuff stopped her by a very unexpected question. 

"Hadn't we better make sure first," he asked, "that the 
other ladies and gentlemen in the house will consent, too?" 

"The only other lady in the house is Miss Verinder," an- 
swered my mistress, with a look of surprise. "The only 
gentlemen are my nephews, Mr. Blake and Mr. Ablewhite. 
There is not the least fear of a refusal from any of the three." 

I reminded my lady here that Mr. Godfrey was going 
away. As I said the words Mr. Godfrey himself knocked at 
the door to say good-bye, and was followed in by Mr. Frank- 
lin, who was going with him to the station. My lady ex- 
plained the difficulty. Mr. Godfrey settled it directly. He 
called to Samuel, through the window, to take his portman- 
teau up stairs again, and he then put the key himself into 
Sergeant Cuff's hand. "My luggage can follow me to Lon- 
don," he said, "when the inquiry is over." The Sergeant 
received the key with a becoming apology. 'T am sorry to 



THE MOONSTONE 

put you to any inconvenience, sir, for a mere formality; but 
the example of their betters will do wonders in reconciling 
the servants to this inquiry." Mr. Godfrey, after taking leave 
of my lady in a most sympathizing manner, left a farewell 
message for Miss Rachel, the terms of which made it clear 
to my mind that he had not taken No for an answer, and 
that he meant to put the marriage question to her once more, 
at the next opportunity. Mr. Franklin, on following his 
cousin out, informed the Sergeant that all his clothes were 
open to examination, and that nothing he possessed was kept 
under lock and key. Sergeant Cuff made his best acknow- 
ledgments. His views, you will observe, had been met with 
the utmost readiness by my lady, by Mr, Godfrey, and by Mr. 
Franklin. There was only Miss Rachel now wanting to fol- 
low their lead, before we called the servants together, and 
began the search for the stained dress. 

My lady's unaccountable objection to the Sergeant seemed 
to make our conference more distasteful to her than ever, 
as soon as we were left alone again. 'Tf I send you down 
Miss Verinder's keys," she said to him, "I presume I shall 
have done all yovi want of me for the present." 

"I beg your ladyship's pardon," said Sergeant Cuff. "Be- 
fore we begin, I should like, if convenient, to have the wash- 
ing-book. The stained article of dress may be an article of 
linen. If the search leads to nothing, I want to be able to 
account next for all the linen in the hovise, and for all the 
linen sent to wash. H there is an article missing, there will 
be at least a presumption that it has got the paint-stain on 
it, and that it has been purposely made away with, yesterday 
or to-day, by the person owning it. Superintendent See- 
grave," added the Sergeant, turning to me, "pointed the 
attention of the women-servants to the smear, when they all 
crowded into the room on Thursday morning. That may 
turn out, Mr. Bctteredge, to have been one more of Superin- 
tendent Seegrave's many mistakes." 

My lady desired me to ring the bell and order the washing- 
book. She remained with us until it was produced, in case 
Sergeant Cuff had any further request to make of her after 
looking at it. 

The washing-book was brought in by Rosanna Spearman. 

123 



THE MOONSTONE 

The girl had come down to breakfast that morning miserably 
pale and haggard, but sufficiently recovered from her illness 
of the previous day to do her usual work. Sergeant Cuff 
looked attentively at our second house-maid — at her face, 
when she came in; at her crooked shoulder, when she went 
out. 

"Have you anything more to say to me?" asked my lady, 
still as eager as ever to be out of the Sergeant's society. 

The great Cuff opened the washing-book, understood it 
perfectly in half a minute, and shut it up again. "I venture 
to trouble your ladyship with one last question," he said. 
"Has the young woman who brought us this book been in 
your employment as long as the other servants ?" 

"Why do you ask?" said my lady. 

"The last time I saw her," answered the Sergeant, "she 
was in prison for theft." 

After that there was no help for it but to tell him the 
truth. My mistress dwelt strongly on Rosanna's good con- 
duct in her service, and on the high opinion entertained of 
her by the matron at the Reformatory. "You don't suspect 
her, I hope?" my lady added, in conclusion, very earnestly. 

"I have already told your ladyship that I don't suspect 
any person in the house of thieving, up to the present time." 

After that answer my lady rose to go up stairs, and ask 
for Miss Rachel's keys. The Sergeant was beforehand with 
me in opening the door for her. He made a very low bow. 
My lady shuddered as she passed him. 

We waited, and waited, and no keys appeared. Sergeant 
Cuff made no remark to me. He turned his melancholy face 
to the window ; he put his lanky hands into his pockets, and 
he whistled The Last Rose of Summer drearily to himself. 

At last Samuel came in, not with the keys, but with a 
morsel of paper for me. I got at my spectacles with some 
fumbling and difficulty, feeling the Sergeant's dismal eyes 
fixed on me all the time. There were two or three lines on 
the paper, written in pencil by my lady. They informed me 
that Miss Rachel flatly refused to have her wardrobe exam- 
ined. Asked for her reasons, she had burst out crying. Asked 
again, she had said : "I won't, because I won't. I must yield 
to force if you use it. but I will yield to nothing else." I 

124 



THE MOONSTONE 

understood my lady's disinclination to face Sergeant Cuff 
with such an answer from her daughter as that. If I had not 
been too old for the amiable weakness of youth, I believe I 
should have blushed at the notion of facing him myself. 

"Any news of Miss Verinder's keys?" asked the Sergeant. 

"My young lady refuses to have her wardrobe examined." 

"Ah!" said the Sergeant. 

His voice was not quite in such a perfect state of discipline 
as his face. When he said "Ah!" he said it in the tone of a 
man who had heard something which he expected to hear. 
He half-angered and half-frightened me — why, I couldn't tell, 
but he did it. 

"Must the search be given up?" I asked. 

"Yes," said the Sergeant, "the search must be given up, 
because your young lady refuses to submit to it like the rest. 
We must examine all the wardrobes in the house or none. 
Send Mr. Ablewhite's portmanteau to London by the next 
train, and return the washing-book, with my compliments 
and thanks, to the young woman who brought it in." 

He laid the washing-book on the table, and, taking out his 
penknife, began to trim his nails. 

"You don't seem to be much disappointed," I said. 

"No," said Sergeant Cuff; "I'm not much disappointed." 

I tried to make him explain himself. 

"Why should Miss Rachel put an obstacle in your way?" 
I inquired. "Isn't it her interest to help you ?" 

"Wait a little, Mr. Betteredge— wait a little." 

Cleverer heads than mine might have seen his drift. Or a 
person less fond of Miss Rachel than I was might have seen 
his drift. My lady's horror of him might, as I have since 
thought, have meant that she saw his drift, as the Scripture 
says, "in a glass darkly." I didn't see it yet — that's all I 
know. 

"What's to be done next?" I asked. 

Sergeant Cuff finished the nail on which he was then at 
work, looked at it for a moment with a melancholy interest, 
and put up his penknife. 

"Come out into the garden," he said, "and let's have a 
look at the roses." 



"5 



THE MOONSTONE 



CHAPTER XIV. 



THE nearest way to the garden, on going out of my lady's 
sitting-room, was by the shrubbery path, which you 
already know of. For the sake of your better understanding 
of what is now to come, I may add to this, that the shrubbery 
path was Mr. Franklin's favorite walk. When he was out 
in the grounds, and when we failed to find him anywhere 
else, we generally found him here. 

I am afraid I must own that I am rather an obstinate old 
man. The more firmly Sergeant Cuff kept his thoughts shut 
up from me the more firmly I persisted in trying to look in 
at them. As we turned into the shrubbery path I attempted 
to circumvent him in another way. 

"As things are now," I said, "if I was in your place I should 
be at my wits' end." 

"If you were in my place," answered the Sergeant, "you 
would have formed an opinion — and, as things are now, any 
doubt you might previously have felt about your own con- 
clusions would be completely set at rest. Never mind, for 
the present, what those conclusions are, Mr. Betteredge. I 
haven't brought you out here to draw me like a badger ; I 
have brought you out here to ask for some information. You 
might have given it to me, no doubt, in the house, instead 
of out of it. But doors and listeners have a knack of getting 
together, and, in my line of life, we sometimes cultivate a 
healthy taste for the open air." 

Who was to circumvent this man? I gave in — and waited 
as patiently as I could to hear what was coming next. 

"We won't enter into your young lady's motives," the Ser- 
geant went on ; "we will only say it's a pity she declines to 
assist me, because, by so doing, she makes this investigation 
more difficult than it might otherwise have been. We must 
now try to solve the mystery of the smear on the door — 
which, you may take my word for it, means the mystery of 
the Diamond also — in some other way. I have decided to see 
the servants, and to search their thoughts and actions, Mr. 
Betteredge, instead of searching their wardrobes. Before 
I begin, however, I want to ask you a question or two. You 

126 



THE MOONSTONE 

are an observant man — did you notice any thing strange in 
any of the servants, making due allowance, of course, for 
fright and fluster, after the loss of the Diamond was found 
out ? Any particular quarrel among them ? Any one of them 
not in his or her usual spirits ? Unexpectedly out of temper, 
for instance ? or unexpectedly taken ill ?" 

I had just time to think of Rosanna Spearman's sudden 
illness at yesterday's dinner — but not time to make any an- 
swer — when I saw Sergeant Cuff's eyes suddenly turn aside 
toward the shrubbery ; and I heard him say softly to himself, 
"Halloo !" 

"What's the matter?" I asked. 

"A touch of the rheumatics in my back," said the Sergeant, 
in a loud voice, as if he wanted some third person to hear 
us. "We shall have a change in the weather before long." ■ 

A few steps farther brought us to the corner of the house. 
Turning off sharp to the right, we entered on the terrace, 
and went down, by the steps in the middle, into the garden 
below. Sergeant Cuff stopped there, in the open space, where 
we could see round us on every side. 

"About that young person, Rosanna Spearman ?" he said. 
"It isn't very likely, with her personal appearance, that she 
has got a lover. But, for the girl's own sake, I must ask 
you at once whether she has provided herself with a sweet- 
heart, poor wretch, like the rest of them?" 

What on earth did he mean, under present circumstances, 
by putting such a question to me as that? I stared at him 
instead of answering him. 

"I saw Rosanna Spearman hiding in the shrubbery as we 
went by," said the Sergeant. 

"When you said, 'Halloo?'" 

"Yes — when I said, 'Halloo.' If there's a sweetheart in 
the case, the hidi..g doesn't much matter. If there isn't — 
as things are in this house — the hiding is a highly suspicious 
circumstance, and it will be my painful duty to act on it 
accordingly." 

What, in God's name, was I to say to him? I knew the 
shrubbery was Mr. Franklin's favorite walk ; I knew he 
would most likely turn that way when he came back from 
the station ; I knew that Penelope had over and over again 

127 



THE MOONSTONE 

caught her fellow-servant hanging about there, and had 
always declared to me that Rosanna's object was to attract 
Mr. Franklin's attention. If my daughter was right, she 
might well have been lying in wait for Mr. Franklin's return 
when the Sergeant noticed her. I was put between the two 
dififiiculties of mentioning Penelope's fanciful notion as if it 
was mine, or of leaving an unfortunate creature to suffer the 
consequences, the very serious consequences, of exciting the 
suspicion of Sergeant Cuff. Out of pure pity for the girl — 
on my soul and my character, out of pure pity for the girl 
— I gave the Sergeant the necessary explanations, and told 
him that Rosanna had been mad enough to set her heart on 
Mr. Franklin Blake. 

Sergeant Cuff never laughed. On the few occasions when 
any thing amused him he curled up a little at the corners of 
the lips, nothing more. He curled up now. 

"Hadn't you better say she's mad enough to be an ugly 
girl and only a servant?" he asked. "The falling in love 
with a gentleman of Mr. Franklin Blake's manners and ap- 
pearance doesn't seem to me to be the maddest part of her 
conduct by any means. However, Fm glad the thing is 
cleared up ; it relieves one's mind to have things cleared up. 
Yes, Fll keep it a secret, Mr. Betteredge. I like to be tender 
to human infirmity — though I don't get many chances of ex- 
ercising that virtue in my line of life. You think Mr. Frank- 
lin Blake hasn't got a suspicion of the girl's fancy for him? 
Ah ! he would have found it out fast enough if she had been 
nice-looking. The ugly women have a bad time of it in this 
world ; let's hope it will be made up to them in another. You 
have got a nice garden there, and a well-kept lawn. See for 
yourself how much better the flowers look with grass about 
them instead of gravel. No, thank you. I won't take a rose. 
It goes to my heart to break them off the stem. Just as it 
goes to your heart, you know, when there's something wrong 
in the servants' hall. Did you notice any thing you couldn't 
account for in any of the servants when the loss of the Dia- 
mond was first found out?" 

I had got on very fairly well with Sergeant Cuff so far. 
But the slyness with which he slipped in that last question 
put me on my guard. In plain English, I didn't at all relish 

128 



THE MOONSTONE 

the notion of helping his inquiries, when those inquiries took 
him, in the capacity of snake in the grass, among my fellow- 
servants. 

"I noticed nothing," I said, "except that we all lost our 
heads together, myself included." 

"Oh," says the Sergeant, "that's all you have to tell me, 
is it?" 

I answered, with, as I flattered myself, an unmoved coun- 
tenance, "That is all." 

Sergeant Cuff's dismal eyes looked me hard in the face. 

"Mr. Betteredge," he said, "have you any objection to 
oblige me by shaking hands ? I have taken an extraordinary 
liking to you." 

Why he should have chosen the exact moment when I was 
deceiving him to give me that proof of his good opinion is 
beyond all comprehension ! I felt a little proud — I really did 
feel a little proud of having been one too many at last for 
the celebrated Cuff! 

We went back to the house ; the Sergeant requesting that 
I would give him a room to himself, and then send in the 
servants, the indoor servants only, one after another, in the 
order of their rank, from first to last. 

I showed Sergeant Cuff into my own room, and then called 
the servants together in the hall. Rosanna Spearman ap- 
peared among them, much as usual. She was as quick in her 
way as the Sergeant in his and I suspect she had heard what 
he said to me about the servants in general, just before he 
discovered her. There she was, at any rate, looking as if 
she had never heard of such a place as the shrubbery in her 
life. 

I sent them in, one by one, as desired. The cook was the 
first to enter the Court of Justice, otherwise my room. She 
remained but a short time. Report, on coming out : "Ser- 
geant Cuff is depressed in his spirits ; but Sergeant Cuff is 
a perfect gentleman." My lady's own maid followed. Re- 
mained much longer. Report, on coming out: "If Sergeant 
Cuff doesn't believe a respectable woman, he might keep his 
opinion to himself, at any rate !" Penelope went next. Re- 
mained only a moment or two. Report, on coming out : "Ser- 
geant Cuff is much to be pitied. He must have been crossed 
® 129 



THE MOONSTONE 

in love, father, when he was a young man." The first house- 
maid followed Penelope. Remained, like my lady's maid, a 
long time. Report, on coming out : "I didn't enter her 
ladyship's service, Mr. Betteredge, to be doubted to my face 
by a low police officer !" Rosanna Spearman went next. Re- 
mained longer than any of them. No report on coming out 
— dead silence, and lips as pale as ashes. Samuel, the foot- 
man, followed Rosanna. Remained a minute or two. Re- 
port, on coming out : "Whoever blacks Sergeant Cuff's boots 
ought to be ashamed of himself." Nancy, the kitchen-maid, 
went last. Remained a minute or two. Report, on coming 
out: "Sergeant Cuff has a heart; he doesn't cut jokes, Mr. 
Betteredge, with a poor hard-working girl." 

Going into the Court of Justice, when it was all over, to 
hear if there were any further commands for me, I found the 
Sergeant at his old trick — looking out of the window and 
whistling The Last Rose of Summer to himself. 

"Any discoveries, sir?" I inquired. 

"If Rosanna Spearman asks leave to go out," said the Ser- 
geant, "let the poor thing go ; but let me know first." 

I might as well have held my tongue about Rosanna and 
Mr. Franklin ! It was plain enough ; the unfortunate girl 
had fallen under Sergeant Cuff's suspicions, in spite of all I 
could do to prevent it. 

"I hope you don't think Rosanna is concerned in the loss 
of the Diamond ?" I ventured to say. 

The corners of the Sergeant's melancholy mouth curled up, 
and he looked hard in my face ; just as he had looked in the 
garden. 

"I think I had better not tell you, Mr. Betteredge," he said. 
"You might lose your head, you know, for the second time." 

I began to doubt whether I had been one too many for 
the celebrated Cuff, after all ! It was rather a relief to me 
that we were interrupted here by a knock at the door and a 
message from the cook. Rosanna Spearman had asked to go 
out, for the usual reason, that her head was bad, and she 
wanted a breath of fresh air. At a sign from the Sergeant, 
I said, "Yes." "Which is the servants' way out?" he asked, 
when the messenger had gone. I showed him the servants' 
way out. "Lock the door of your room," says the Sergeant; 

130 



THE MOONSTONE 

"and if any body asks for me, say I'm in there, composing 
my mind." He curled up again at the corners of the lips, 
and disappeared. 

Left alone, under those circumstances, a devouring curi- 
osity pushed me on to make some discoveries for myself. 

It was plain that Sergeant Cuff's suspicions of Rosanna 
had been roused by something that he had found out at his 
examination of the servants in my room. Now, the only two 
servants, excepting Rosanna herself, who had remained under 
examination for any length of time were my lady's own maid 
and the first house-maid, those two being also the women 
who had taken the lead in persecuting their unfortunate 
fellow-servant from the first. Reaching these conclusions, I 
looked in on them, casually as it might be, in the servants', 
hall, and, finding tea going forward, instantly invited myself 
to that meal. (For, nota bene, a drop of tea is, to a woman's 
tongue, what a drop of oil is to a wasting lamp.) 

My reliance on the tea-pot as an ally did not go un- 
rewarded. In less than half an hour I knew as much as the 
Sergeant himself. 

My lady's maid and the house-maid had, it appears, neither 
of them believed in Rosanna's illness of the previous day. 
These two devils — I ask your pardon, but how else can you 
describe a couple of spiteful women? — had stolen up stairs, 
at intervals during the Thursday afternoon ; had tried Ro- 
sanna's door and found it locked ; had knocked and not been 
answered ; had listened and not heard a sound inside. When 
the girl had come down to tea, and had been sent up, still 
out of sorts, to bed again, the two devils aforesaid had tried 
her door once more, and found it locked ; had looked at the 
key-hole, and found it stopped up ; had seen a light under the 
door at midnight, and had heard the crackling of a fire — a 
fire in a servant's bedroom in the month of June ! — at four in 
the morning. All this they had told Sergeant Cuff, who, in 
return for their anxiety to enlighten him, had eyed them 
with sour and suspicious looks, and had shown them plainly 
that he didn't believe either one or the other. Hence the un- 
favorable reports of him which these two women had brought 
out with them from the examination. Hence, also, without 
reckoning the influence of the tea-pot, their readiness to let 

131 



THE MOONSTONE 

their tongues run to any length on the subject of the Ser- 
geant's ungracious behavior to them. 

Having had some experience of the great Cuff's round- 
about ways, and having last seen him evidently bent on fol- 
lowing Rosanna privately when she went out for her walk, 
it seemed clear to me that he had thought it unadvisable to 
let the lady's maid and the house-maid know how materially 
they had helped him. They were just the sort of women, 
if he had treated their evidence as trustworthy, to have been 
puffed up by it, and to have said or done something which 
would have put Rosanna Spearman on her guard. 

I walked out in the fine summer evening, very sorry for the 
poor girl, and very uneasy in my mind, generally, at the turn 
things had taken. Drifting toward the shrubbery, there I met 
Mr. Franklin in his favorite walk. He had been back some 
time from the station and had been with my lady, holding 
a long conversation with her. She had told him of Miss 
Rachel's unaccountable refusal to let her wardrobe be exam- 
ined and had put him in such low spirits about my young 
lady that he seemed to shrink from speaking on the subject. 
The family temper appeared in his face that evening for the 
first time in my experience of him. 

"Well, Betteredge," he said, "how does the atmosphere of 
mystery and suspicion in which we are all living now agree 
with you? Do you remember that morning when I first 
came here with the Moonstone? I wish to God we had 
thrown it into the quicksand !" 

After breaking out in that way, he abstained from speak- 
ing again until he had composed himself. We walked silently, 
side by side, for a minute or two, and then he asked me what 
had become of Sergeant Cuff. It was impossible to put Mr. 
Franklin off with the excuse of the Sergeant being in my 
room, composing his mind. I told him exactly what had 
happened, mentioning particularly what my lady's maid and 
the house-maid had said about Rosanna Spearman. 

Mr. Franklin's clear head saw the turn the Sergeant's sus- 
picions had taken, in the twinkling of an eye. 

"Didn't you tell me this morning," he said, "that one of 
the trades-people declared he had met Rosanna yesterday, on 

132 



THE MOONSTONE 

the foot-way to Frizinghall, when we supposed her to be ill 
in her room?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"If my aunt's maid and the other woman have spoken the 
truth, you may depend upon it the tradesman did meet her. 
The girl's attack of illness was a blind to deceive us. She 
had some guilty reason for going to the town secretly. The 
paint-stained dress is a dress of hers ; and the fire heard crack- 
ling in her room at four in the morning was a fire lit to de- 
stroy it. Rosanna Spearman has stolen the Diamond. I'll 
go in directly, and tell my aunt the turn things have taken." 

"Not just yet, if you please, sir," said a melancholy voice 
behind us. 

We both turned about, and found ourselves face to face 
with Sergeant Cuff. 

"Why not just yet?" asked Mr. Franklin. 

"Because, sir, if you tell her ladyship, her ladyship will tell 
Miss Verinder." 

"Suppose she does. What then?" Mr. Franklin said those 
words with a sudden heat and vehemence, as if the Sergeant 
had mortally offended him. 

"Do you think it's wise, sir," said Sergeant Cuff, quietly, 
"to put such a question as that to me — at such a time as this ?" 

There was a moment's silence between them : Mr. Frank- 
lin walked close up to the Sergeant. The two looked each 
other straight in the face. Mr. Franklin spoke first; drop- 
ping his voice as suddenly as he had raised it. 

"I suppose you know, Mr. Cuff," he said, "that you are 
treading on delicate ground?" 

"It isn't the first time, by a good many hvmdreds, that I 
find myself treading on delicate ground," answered the other, 
just as immovable as ever. 

"I am to understand that you forbid me to tell my aunt 
what has happened ?" 

"You are to understand, if you please, sir, that I throw up 
the case, if you tell Lady Verinder, or tell any body, what 
has happened until I give you leave." 

That settled it. Mr. Franklin had no choice but to submit. 
He turned away in anger, and left us. 

^33 



THE MOONSTONE 

I had stood there listening to them, all in a tremble ; not 
knowing whom to suspect, or what to think next. In the 
midst of my confusion, two things, however, were plain to 
me. First, that my young lady was, in some unaccountable 
manner, at the bottom of the sharp speeches that had passed 
between them. Second, that they thoroughly understood each 
other without having previously exchanged a word of expla- 
nation on either side. 

"Mr. Betteredge," said the Sergeant, "you have done a very 
foolish thing in my absence. You have done a Httle detective 
business on your own account. For the future, perhaps you 
will be so obliging as to do your detective business along 
with me." 

He took me by the arm and walked me away with him 
along the road by which he had come. I dare say I had de- 
served his reproof — but I was not going to help him to set 
traps for Rosanna Spearman for all that. Thief or no thief, 
legal or not legal, I don't care — I pitied her. 

"What do you want of me ?" I asked, shaking him ofif, and 
stopping short. 

"Only a little information about the country round here," 
said the Sergeant. 

I couldn't well object to improve Sergeant Cuff in his geog- 
raphy. 

"Is there any path, in that direction, leading from the sea- 
beach to this house?" asked the Sergeant. He pointed, as 
he spoke, to the fir-plantation which led to the Shivering 
Sand. 

"Yes," I said ; "there is a path." 

"Show it to me." 

Side by side, in the gray of the summer evening. Sergeant 
Cuff and I set forth for the Shivering Sand. 



CHAPTER XV. 

THE Sergeant remained silent, thinking his own thoughts, 
till we entered the plantation of firs which led to the 
quicksand. There he roused himself, like a man whose mind 
was made up, and spoke to me again. 

134 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Mr, Betteredge," he said, "as you have honored me by 
taking an oar in my boat, and as you may, I think, be of 
some assistance to me before the evening is out, I see no use 
in our mystifying one another any longer, and I propose to 
set you an example of plain-speaking on my side. You are 
determined to give me no information to the prejudice of 
Rosanna Spearman, because she has been a good girl to you, 
and because you pity her heartily. Those humane considera- 
tions do you a world of credit, but they happen in this instance 
to be humane considerations clean thrown away. Rosanna 
Spearman is not in the slightest danger of getting into trouble 
— no, not if I fix her with being concerned in the disappear- 
ance of the Diamond, on evidence which is as plain as the 
nose on your face !" 

"Do you mean that my lady won't prosecute?" I asked. 

"I mean that your lady can't prosecute," said the Sergeant. 
"Rosanna Spearman is simply an instrument in the hands of 
another person and Rosanna Spearman will be held harm- 
less for that other person's sake." 

He spoke like a man in earnest — there was no denying 
that. Still, I felt something stirring uneasily against him 
in my mind. "Can't you give that other person a name?" 
I said. 

"Can't you, Mr. Betteredge?" 

"No." 

Sergeant Cufif stood stock-still, and surveyed me with a 
look of melancholy interest. 

"It's always a pleasure to me to be tender toward human 
infirmity," he said. "I feel particularly tender at the present 
moment, Mr. Betteredge, toward you. And you, with the 
same excellent motive, feel particularly tender toward Ro- 
sanna Spearman, don't you ? Do you happen to know whether 
she has had a new outfit of linen lately?" 

What he meant by slipping in this extraordinary question 
unawares I was at a total loss to imagine. Seeing no pos- 
sible injury to Rosanna if I owned the truth, T answered that 
the girl had come to us rather sparely provided with linen, 
and that my lady, in recompense for her good conduct, I laid 
a stress on her good conduct, had given her a new outfit not 
a fortnight since. 

135 



THE MOONSTONE 

"This is a miserable world," says the Sergeant. "Human 
life, Mr. Betteredge, is a sort of target — misfortune is always 
firing at it and always hitting the mark. But for that outfit 
we should have discovered a new night-gown or petticoat 
among Rosanna's things, and have nailed her in that way. 
You're not at a loss to follow me, are you ? You have exam- 
ined the servants yourself and you know what discoveries 
two of them made outside Rosanna's door. Surely you know 
what the girl was about yesterday, after she was taken ill? 
You can't guess? Oh, dear me, it's as plain as that strip of 
light there at the end of the trees. At eleven, on Thursday 
morning, Superintendent Seegrave, who is a mass of human 
infirmity, points out to all the women servants the smear on 
the door. Rosanna has her own reasons for suspecting her 
own things ; she takes the first opportunity of getting to her 
room, finds the paint stain on her night-gown, or petticoat, 
or what not, shams ill, and slips away to the town, gets the 
materials for making a new petticoat or night-gown, makes 
it alone in her room on the Thursday night, lights a fire — not 
to destroy it ; two of her fellow-servants are prying outside 
her door, and she knows better than to make a smell of burn- 
ing, and to have a lot of tinder to get rid of — lights a fire, I 
say, to dry and iron the substitute dress after wringing it out, 
keeps the stained dress hidden, probably on her, and is at this 
moment occupied in making away with it, in some convenient 
place, on that lonely bit of beach ahead of us. I have traced 
her this evening to your fishing village and to one particular 
cottage which we may possibly have to visit before we go 
back. She stopped in the cottage for some time, and she 
came out with, as I believe, something hidden under her cloak. 
A cloak, on a woman's back, is an emblem of charity — it 
covers a multitude of sins. I saw her set off northward along 
the coast, after leaving the cottage. Is your sea-shore here 
considered a fine specimen of marine landscape, Mr. Better- 
edge?" 

I answered "Yes," as shortly as might be. 

"Tastes differ," says Sergeant Cuff. "Looking at it from 
my point of view, I never saw a marine landscape that I 
admired less. If you happen to be following another person 
along your sea-coast, and if that person happens to look 

136 



THE MOONSTONE 

round, there isn't a scrap of cover to hide you anywhere. I 
had to choose between taking Rosanna in custody on sus- 
picion, or leaving her, for the time being, with her Httle 
game in her own hands. For reasons, which I won't trouble 
you with, I decided on making any sacrifice rather than give 
the alarm as soon as to-night to a certain person who shall 
be nameless between us. I came back to the house to ask 
you to take me to the north end of the beach by another way. 
Sand — in respect of its printing ofif people's footsteps — is one 
of the best detective officers I know. If we don't meet with 
Rosanna Spearman by coming round on her this way, the 
sand may tell us what she has been at, if the light only lasts 
long enough. Here is the sand. If you will excuse my sug- 
gesting it — suppose you hold your tongue, and let me go 
first?" 

If there is such a thing known at the doctor's shop as a 
detective fever, that disease had now got fast hold of your 
humble servant. Sergeant Cufif went on between the hillocks 
of sand, down to the beach. I followed him, with my heart 
in my mouth ; and waited at a little distance for what was to 
happen next. 

As it turned out, I found myself standing nearly in the 
same place where Rosanna Spearman and I had been talking 
together when Mr. Franklin suddenly appeared before us, 
on arriving at our house from London. While my eyes were 
watching the Sergeant, my mind wandered away in spite of 
me to what had passed on that former occasion between Ro- 
sanna and me. I declare I almost felt the poor thing slip her 
hand again into mine, and give it a little grateful squeeze to 
thank me for speaking kindly to her. I declare I almost 
heard her voice telling me again that the Shivering Sand 
seemed to draw her to it, against her own will, whenever she 
went out — almost saw her face brighten again, as it bright- 
ened when she first set eyes upon Mr. Franklin coming briskly 
out on us from among the hillocks. My spirits fell lower 
and lower as I thought of these things — and the view of the 
lonesome little bay, when I looked about to rouse myself, 
only served to make me feel more uneasy still. 

The l^st of the evening light was fading away ; and over 
all the desolate place there hung a still and awful calm. The 

137 



THE MOONSTONE 

heave of the main ocean on the great sand-bank out in the 
bay, was a heave that made no sound. The inner sea lay lost 
and dim, without a breath of wind to stir it. Patches of nasty 
ooze floated, yellow-white, on the dead surface of the water. 
Scum and slime shone faintly in certain places, where the last 
of the light still caught them on the two great spits of rock 
jutting out, north and south, into the sea. It was now the 
time of the turn of the tide ; and even as I stood there wait- 
ing, the broad brown face of the quicksand began to dimple 
and quiver — the only moving thing in all the horrid place. 

I saw the Sergeant start as the shiver of the sand caught 
his eye. After looking at it for a minute or so he turned and 
came back to me. 

"A treacherous place, Mr. Betteredge," he said ; "and no 
signs of Rosanna Spearman anywhere on the beach, look 
where you may." 

He took me down lower on the shore, and I saw for my- 
self that his footsteps and mine were the only footsteps printed 
off on the sand. 

"How does the fishing village bear, standing where we are 
now?" asked Sergeant Cuff. 

"Cobb's Hole," I answered, that being the name of the 
place, "bears as near as may be due south." 

"I saw the girl this evening, w^alking northward along the 
shore, from Cobb's Hole," said the Sergeant. "Consequently, 
she must have been walking toward this place. Is Cobb's 
Hole on the other side of that point of land there? And can 
we get to it — now it's low water — by the beach ?" 

I answered "Yes" to both those questions. 

"If you'll excuse my suggesting it, we'll step out briskly," 
says the Sergeant. "I want to find the place where she left 
the shore before it gets dark." 

We had walked, I should say, a couple of hundred yards 
toward Cobb's Hole, when Sergeant Cuff suddenly went 
down on his knees on the beach, to all appearance seized with 
a sudden frenzy for saying his prayers. 

"There's something to be said for your marine landscape 
here, after all," remarked the Sergeant. "Here are a woman's 
footsteps, Mr. Betteredge ! Let us call them Rosanna's foot- 
steps, until we find evidence to the contrary that w^e can't 

''' X 



\^ 



^i 



THE MOONSTONE 

resist. Very confused footsteps, you will please to observe — 
purposely confused, I should say. Ah, poor soul, she under- 
stands the detective virtues of sand as well as I do ! But 
hasn't she been in rather too great a hurry to tread out the 
marks thoroughly? I think she has. Here's one footstep 
going from Cobb's Hole ; and here is another going back to 
it. Isn't that the toe of her shoe pointing straight to the 
water's edge ? And don't I see two heel-marks farther down 
the beach, close at the water's edge also? I don't want to 
hurt your feelings, but I'm afraid Rosanna is sly. It looks 
as if she had determined to get to that place you and I have 
just come from, without leaving any marks on the sand to 
trace her by. Shall we say that she walked through the water 
from this point till she got to that ledge of rocks behind us, 
and came back the same way, and then took to the beach again 
where those two heel-marks are still left? Yes, we'll say that. 
It seems to fit in with my notion that she had something under 
her cloak when she left the cottage. No ! not something to 
destroy — for, in that case, where would have been the need 
of all these precautions to prevent my tracing the place at 
which her walk ended? Something to hide is, I think, the 
better guess of the two. Perhaps, if we go on to the cottage, 
we may find out what that something is !" 

At this proposal my detective fever suddenly cooled. "You 
don't want me," I said. "What good can I do?" 

"The longer I know you, Mr. Betteredge," said the Ser- 
geant, "the more virtues I discover. Modesty — oh, dear me, 
how rare modesty is in this world ! and how much of that 
rarity you possess ! If I go alone to the cottage the people's 
tongues will be tied at the first question I put to them. If I 
go with you I go introduced by a justly respected neighbor, 
and a flow of conversation is the necessary result. It strikes 
me in that light ; how does it strike you ?" 

Not having an answer of the needful smartness as ready 
as I could have wished, I tried to gain time by asking him 
what cottage he wanted to go to. 

On the Sergeant describing the place, T recognized it as 
a cottage inhabited by a fisherman named Yolland, with his 
wife and two grown-up children, a son and a daughter. If 
you will look back, you will find that, in first presenting Ro- 

139 



THE MOONSTONE 

sanna Spearman to your notice, I have described her as occa- 
sionally varying her walk to the Shivering Sand by a visit 
to some friends of hers at Cobb's Hole. Those friends were 
the Yollands — respectable, worthy people, a credit to the 
neighborhood. Rosanna's acquaintance with them had begun 
by means of the daughter, who was afflicted with a misshapen 
foot, and who was known in our parts by the name of Limp- 
ing Lucy. The two deformed girls had, I suppose, a kind of 
fellow-feeling for each other. Any way, the Yollands and 
Rosanna always appeared to get on together, at the few 
chances they had of meeting, in a pleasant and friendly man- 
ner. The fact of Sergeant Cuff having traced the girl to their 
cottage set the matter of my helping his inquiries in quite a 
new light. Rosanna had merely gone where she was in the 
habit of going; and to show that she had been in company 
with the fisherman and his family was as good as to prove 
that she had been innocently occupied, so far, at any rate. 
It would be doing that girl a service, therefore, instead of 
an injury, if I allowed myself to be convinced by Sergeant 
Cuff's logic. I professed myself convinced by it accordingly. 

We went on to Cobb's Hole, seeing the footsteps on the 
sand as long as the light lasted. 

On reaching the cottage, the fisherman and his son proved 
to be out in the boat ; and Limping Lucy, always weak and 
weary, was resting on her bed up stairs. Good Mrs. Yolland 
received us alone in her kitchen. When she heard that Ser- 
geant Cuff was a celebrated character in London, she clapped 
a bottle of Dutch gin and a couple of clean pipes on the table, 
and stared as if she could never see enough of him. 

I sat quiet in a corner, waiting to hear how the Sergeant 
would find his way to the subject of Rosanna Spearman. His 
usual roundabout manner of going to work proved, on this 
occasion, to be more roundabout than ever. How he man- 
aged it is more than I could tell at the time, and more than 
I can tell now. But this is certain, he began with the Royal 
Family, the Primitive Methodists, and the price of fish ; and 
he got from that (in his dismal, under-ground way) to the 
loss of the Moonstone, the spitefulness of our first house- 
maid, and the hard behavior of the women-servants generally 
toward Rosanna Spearman. Having reached his subject in 

140 



THE MOONSTONE 

this fashion, he described himself as making his inquiries 
about the lost Diamond partly with a view to find it, and 
partly for the purpose of clearing Rosanna from the unjust 
suspicions of her enemies in the house. In about a quarter 
of an hour from the time when we entered the kitchen good 
Mrs. Yolland was persuaded that she was talking to Ro- 
sanna's best friend, and was pressing Sergeant Cuff to com- 
fort his stomach and revive his spirits out of the Dutch bottle. 

Being firmly persuaded that the Sergeant was wasting his 
breath to no purpose on Mrs. Yolland, I sat enjoying the talk 
between them, much as I have sat, in my time, enjoying a 
stage play. The great Cuff showed a wonderful patience ; 
trying his luck drearily this way and that way, and firing 
shot after shot, as it were, at random, on the chance of hitting 
the mark. Every thing to Rosanna's credit, nothing to Ro- 
sanna's prejudice — that was how it ended, try as he might; 
with Mrs. Yolland talking nineteen to the dozen, and placing 
the most entire confidence in him. His last effort was made, 
when we had looked at our watches, and had got on our legs 
previous to taking leave. 

"1 shall now wish you good-night, ma'am," says the Ser- 
geant. "And I shall only say, at parting, that Rosanna Spear- 
man has a sincere well-wisher in myself, your obedient ser- 
vant. But, oh dear me ! she will never get on in her present 
place : and my advice to her is — leave it." 

"Bless your heart alive ! she is going to leave it !" cries 
Mrs. Yolland. (Nota bene: I translate Mrs. Yolland out of 
the Yorkshire language into the English language. When 
I tell you that the all-accomplished Cuff was every now and 
then puzzled to understand her until I helped him, you will 
draw your own conclusions as to what your state of mind 
would be if I reported her in her native tongue.) 

Rosanna Spearman going to leave us ! I pricked up my 
ears at that. It seemed strange, to say the least of it, that 
she should have given no warning, in the first place, to my 
lady or to me. A certain doubt came up in my mind whether 
Sergeant Cuff's last random shot might not have hit the mark. 
I began to question whether my share in the proceedings was 
quite as harmless a one as I had thought it. It might be all 
jn the way of the Sergeant's business to mystify an honest 

141 



THE MOONSTONE 

woman by wrapping her round in a net-work of lies; but it 
was my duty to have remembered, as a good Protestant, that 
the father of Ues is the Devil — and that mischief and the 
Devil are never far apart. Beginning to smell mischief in the 
air, I tried to take Sergeant Cuff out. He sat down again 
instantly, and asked for a last little drop of comfort out of 
the Dutch bottle. Mrs. Yolland sat down opposite to him, 
and gave him his nip. I went on to the door, excessively 
uncomfortable, and said I thought I must bid them good- 
night — and yet I didn't go. 

"So she means to leave?" says the Sergeant. "What is 
she to do when she does leave ? Sad, sad ! The poor crea- 
ture has got no friends in the world except you and me." 

"Ah, but she has though !" says Mrs. Yolland. "She came 
in here, as I told you, this evening ; and, after sitting and 
talking a little with my girl Lucy and me, she asked to go 
up stairs by herself into Lucy's room. It's the only room 
in our place where there's pen and ink. T want to write a 
letter to a friend,' she says, 'and I can't do it for the prying 
and the peeping of the servants up at the house.' Who the 
letter was written to I can't tell you : it must have been a 
mortal long one, judging by the time she stopped up stairs 
over it. I ofifered her a postage stamp when she came down. 
She hadn't got the letter in her hand, and she didn't accept 
the stamp. A little close, poor soul (as you know), about 
herself and her doings. But a friend she has got somewhere, 
I can tell you ; and to that friend, you may depend upon it, 
she will go." 

"Soon ?" asked the Sergeant. 

"As soon as she can," says Mrs. Yolland. 

Here I stepped in again from the door. As chief of my 
lady's establishment I couldn't allow this sort of loose talk 
about a servant of ours going or not going to proceed any 
longer in my presence without noticing it. 

"You must be mistaken about Rosanna Spearman," I said. 
"If she had been going to leave her present situation she 
would have mentioned it, in the first place, to me." 

"Mistaken?" cries Mrs. Yolland. "Why. only an hour 
ago she bought some things she wanted for traveling — of 
my own self, Mr. Betteredge, in this very room. And that 

142 



THE MOONSTONE 

reminds me," says the wearisome woman, suddenly begin- 
ning to feel in her pocket, "of something I've got it on my 
mind to say about Rosanna and her money. Are you either 
of you likely to see her when you go back to the house?" 

"I'll take a message to the poor thing, with the greatest 
pleasure," answered Sergeant Cuff, before I could put in a 
word edgewise. 

Mrs. Yolland produced out of her pocket a few shillings 
and sixpences, and counted them out with a most particular 
and exasperating carefulness in the palm of her hand. She 
offered the money to the Sergeant, looking mighty loath to 
part with it all the while. 

"Might I ask you to give this back to Rosanna, with my 
love and respects?" says Mrs. Yolland. "She insisted on 
paying me for the one or two things she took a fancy to this 
evening — and money's welcome enough in our house, I don't 
deny it. Still, I'm not easy in my mind about taking the poor 
thing's little savings. And to tell you the truth, I don't think 
my man would like to hear that I had taken Rosanna Spear- 
man's money when he comes back to-morrow morning from 
his work. Please say she's heartily welcome to the things 
she bought of me — as a gift. And don't leave the money 
on the table," says Mrs Yolland, putting it down sud- 
denly before the Sergeant, as if it burned her fingers — 
"don't, there's a good man ! For times are hard, and flesh is 
weak ; and I might feel tempted to put it back in my pocket 
again." 

"Come along !" I said. "I can't wait any longer : I must 
go back to the house." 

"I'll follow you directly," says Sergeant Cuff. 

For the second time I went to the door ; and for the second 
time, try as I might, I couldn't cross the threshold. 

"It's a delicate matter, ma'am," I heard the Sergeant say, 
"giving money back. You charged her cheap for the things, 
I'm sure?" 

"Cheap!" said Mrs. Yolland. "Come and judge for vour- 
self." 

She took up the candle and led the Sergeant to a corner 
of the kitchen. For the life of me I couldn't help following 
them. Shaken down in the corner was a heap of odds and 

143 



THE MOONSTONE 

ends (mostly old metal) which the fisherman had picked up 
at different times from wrecked ships, and which he hadn't 
found a market for yet to his own mind. Mrs. Yolland dived 
into this rubbish, and brought up an old japanned tin case, 
with a cover to it, and a hasp to hang it up by — the sort of 
thing they use on board ship for keeping their maps and 
charts, and such like, from the wet. 

"There !" says she. "When Rosanna came in this evening, 
she bought the fellow to that. 'It will just do,' she says, 
'to put my cuffs and collars in, and keep them from being 
crumpled in my box.' One-and-ninepence, Mr. Cuff. As I 
live by bread, not a half-penny more !" 

"Dirt cheap !" says the Sergeant, with a heavy sigh. 

He weighed the case in his hand. I thought I heard a 
note or two of The Last Rose of Summer as he looked at it. 
There was no doubt now ! He had made another discovery 
to the prejudice of Rosanna Spearman in the place of all 
others where I thought her character was safest, and all 
through me ! I leave you to imagine what I felt, and how 
sincerely I repented having been the medium of introduction 
between Mrs. Yolland and Sergeant Cuff. 

"That will do," I said. "We really must go." 

Without paying the least attention to me, Mrs. Yolland 
took another dive into the rubbish, and came up out of it, 
this time, with a dog chain. 

"Weigh it in your hand, sir," she said, to the Sergeant. 
"We had three of these ; and Rosanna has taken two of 
them. 'What can you want, my dear, with a couple of dog's 
chains?' says I. 'If I join them together they'll go round 
my box nicely,' says she. 'Rope's cheapest,' says I. 'Chain's 
surest,' says she. 'Who ever heard of a box corded with 
chain?' says I. 'Oh, Mrs. Yolland, don't make objections!' 
says she ; 'let me have my chains !' A strange girl, Mr. Cuff 
— good as gold, and kinder than a sister to my Lucy — but 
always a little strange. There ! I humored her. Three-and- 
sixpence. On the word of an honest woman, three and six- 
pence, Mr. Cuff!" 

"Each?" says the Sergeant. 

"Both together !" says Mrs. Yolland. "Three-and-sixpence 
for the two." 

144 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Given away, ma'am," says the Sergeant, shaking his head. 
"Clean given away !" 

"There's the money," says Mrs. Yolland, getting back side- 
ways to the httle heap of silver on the table, as if it drew 
her in spite of herself. "The tin case and the dog chains 
were all she bought, and all she took away. One-and-nine- 
pence and three-and-sixpence — total, five and three. With my 
love and respects — and I can't find it in my conscience to take 
a poor girl's savings, when she may want them herself." 

"I can't find it in my conscience, ma'am, to give the money 
back," says Sergeant Cuff. "You have as good as made her 
a present of the things — you have indeed," 

"Is that your sincere opinion, sir?" says Mrs. Yolland, 
brightening up wonderfully. 

"There can't be a doubt about it," answered the Sergeant. 
"Ask Mr. Betteredge." 

It was no use asking me. All they got out of me was, 
"Good-night." 

"Bother the money !" says Mrs. Yolland. With those 
words she appeared to lose all command over herself; and 
making a sudden snatch at the heap of silver, put it back, 
holus-bolus, in her pocket. "It upsets one's temper, it does, 
to see it lying there, and nobody taking it," cries this un- 
reasonable woman, sitting down with a thump, and looking at 
Sergeant CuiT, as much as to say, "It's in my pocket again 
now — get it out if you can !" 

This time I not only went to the door but went fairly out 
on the road back. Explain it how you may, I felt as if one 
or both of them had mortally offended me. Before I had 
taken three steps down the village I heard the Sergeant be- 
hind me. 

"Thank you for your introduction, Mr. Betteredge," he 
said. "I am indebted to the fisherman's wife for an entirely 
new sensation. Mrs. Yolland has puzzled me." 

It was on the tip of my tongue to have given him a sharp 
answer, for no better reason than this — that I was out of 
temper with him, because I was out of temper with myself. 
But when he owned to being puzzled, a comforting doubt 
crossed my mind whether any great harm had been done after 
all. T waited in discreet silence to hear more. 

'' 145 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Yes," says the Sergeant, as if he was actually reading 
my thoughts in the dark. "Instead of putting me on the 
scent, it may console you to know, Mr. Betteredge (with your 
interest in Rosanna), that you have been the means of throw- 
ing me off. What the girl has done to-night is clear enough, 
of course. She has joined the two chains, and has fastened 
them to the hasp in the tin case. She has sunk the case in 
the water or in the quicksand. She has made the loose end 
of the chain fast to some place under the rocks, known only 
to herself. And she will leave the case secure at its anchorage 
till the present proceedings have come to an end ; after which 
she can privately pull it up again out of its hiding-place, at 
her own leisure and convenience. All perfectly plain so far. 
But," says the Sergeant, with the first tone of impatience in 
his voice that I had heard yet, "the mystery is — what the 
devil has she hidden in the tin case?" 

I thought to myself, "The Moonstone !" But I only said 
to Sergeant Cuff, "Can't you guess ?" 

"It's not the Diamond," says the Sergeant. "The whole 
experience of my life is at fault if Rosanna Spearman has got 
the Diamond." 

On hearing those words the infernal detective fever be- 
gan, I suppose, to burn in me again. At any rate, I forgot 
myself in the interest of guessing this new riddle. I said 
rashly, "The stained dress !" 

Sergeant Cuff stopped short in the dark, and laid his hand 
on my arm. 

"Is any thing thrown into that quicksand of yours ever 
thrown up on the surface again ?" he asked. 

"Never," I answered. "Light or heavy, whatever goes 
into the Shivering Sand is sucked down and seen no more." 

"Does Rosanna Spearman know that?" 

"She knows it as well as I do." 

"Then," says the Sergeant, "what on earth has she got to 
do but to tie up a bit of stone in the stained dress and throw 
it into the quicksand? There isn't the shadow of a reason 
why she should have hidden it — and yet she must have hidden 
it. Query," says the Sergeant, walking on again, "is the 
paint-stained dress a petticoat or a night-gown ? or is it some- 
thing else which there is a reason for preserving at any risk? 

146 



THE MOONSTONE 

Mr. Betteredge, if nothing occurs to prevent it, I must go 
to Frizinghall to-morrow, and discover what she bought in 
the town, when she privately got the materials for making 
the substitute dress. It's a risk to leave the house as things 
are now — but it's a worse risk still to stir another step in this 
matter in the dark. Excuse my being a little out of temper ; 
I'm degraded in my own estimation — I have let Rosanna 
Spearman puzzle me." 

When we got back the servants were at supper. The first 
person we saw in the outer yard was the policeman whom 
Superintendent Seegrave had left at the Sergeant's disposal. 
The Sergeant asked if Rosanna Spearman had returned. Yes. 
When? Nearly an hour since. What had she done? She 
had gone up stairs to take off her bonnet and cloak — and she 
was now at supper quietly with the rest. 

Without making any remark Sergeant Cuff walked on, 
sinking lower and lower in his own estimation, to the back 
of the house. Missing the entrance in the dark, he went on, 
in spite of my calling to him, till he was stopped by a wicket- 
gate which led into the garden. When I joined him to bring 
him back by the right way, I found that he was looking up 
attentively at one particular window, on the bedroom floor, 
at the back of the house. 

Looking up in my turn, I discovered that the object of his 
contemplation was the window of Miss Rachel's room, and 
that lights were passing backward and forward there as if 
something unusual was going on. 

"Isn't that Miss Verinder's room ?" asked Sergeant Cuff. 

I replied that it was, and invited him to go in with me to 
supper. The Sergeant remained in his place, and said some- 
thing about enjoying the smell of the garden at night. I left 
him to his enjoyment. Just as I was turning in at the door 
I heard The Last Rose of Summer at the wicket-gate. Ser- 
geant Cuff had made another discovery ! And my young 
lady's window was at the bottom of it this time ! 

That latter reflection took me back again to the Sergeant, 
with a polite intimation that I could not find it in my heart 
to leave him by himself. "Is there any thing you don't under- 
stand up there?" I added, pointing to Miss Rachel's window. 

Judging by his voice. Sergeant Cuff had suddenly risen 

147 



THE MOONSTONE 

again to the right place in his own estimation. "You are 
great people for betting in Yorkshire, are you not?" he asked. 

"Well?" I said. "Suppose we are?" 

"If I was a Yorkshireman," proceeded the Sergeant, taking 
my arm, "I would lay you an even sovereign, Mr. Betteredge, 
that your young lady has suddenly resolved to leave the house. 
If I won on that event, I should offer to lay another sovereign 
that the idea has occurred to her within the last hour." 

The first of the Sergeant's guesses startled me. The sec- 
ond mixed itself up somehow in my head with the report 
we had heard from the policeman, that Rosanna Spearman 
had returned from the sands within the last hour. The two 
together had a curious effect on me as we went in to supper. 
I shook off Sergeant Cuff's arm, and, forgetting my man- 
ners, pushed by him through the door to make rfiy own in- 
quiries for myself. 

Samuel, the footman, was the first person I met in the 
passage. 

"Her ladyship is waiting to see you and Sergeant Cuff," 
he said, before I could put any questions to him. 

"How long has she been waiting?" asked the Sergeant's 
voice behind me. 

"For the last hour, sir." 

There it was again ! Rosanna had come back ; Miss Rachel 
had taken some resolution out of the common ; and my lady 
had been waiting to see the Sergeant — all within the last 
hour ! It was not pleasant to find these very different persons 
and things linking themselves together in this way. I went 
on up stairs, without looking at Sergeant Cuff or speaking 
to him. My hand took a sudden fit of trembling as I lifted 
it to knock at my mistress's door. 

"I shouldn't be surprised," whispered the Sergeant over 
my shoulder, "if a scandal was to burst up in the house to- 
night. Don't be alarmed ! I have put the muzzle on worse 
family difficulties than this in my time." 

As he said the words I heard my mistress's voice calling 
to us to come in. 



148 



THE MOONSTONE 



CHAPTER XVI. 

WE found my lady with no light in the room but the 
reading-lamp. The shade was screwed down so as 
to overshadow her face. Instead of looking up at us in her 
usual straightforward way, she sat close at the table, and 
kept her eyes fixed obstinately on an open book. 

"Officer," she said, "is it important to the inquiry you are 
conducting to know beforehand if any person now in this 
house wishes to leave it?" 

"Most important, my lady." 

"I have to tell you, then, that Miss Verinder proposes go- 
ing to stay with her aunt, Mrs. Ablewhite, of Frizinghall. 
She has arranged to leave us the first thing to-morrow 
morning." 

Sergeant Cuff looked at me. I made a step forward to 
speak to my mistress — and, feeling my heart fail me, if I 
must own it, took a step back again, and said nothing. 

"May I ask your ladyship zvhcn Miss Verinder first thought 
of going to her aunt's?" inquired the Sergeant. 

"About an hour since," answered my mistress. 

Sergeant Cuff looked at me once more. They say old peo- 
ple's hearts are not very easily moved. My heart couldn't 
have thumped much harder than it did now, if I had been 
five-and-twenty again ! 

"I have no claim, my lady," says the Sergeant, "to control 
Miss Verinder's actions. All I can ask you to do is to put 
off her departure, if possible, till later in the day. I must 
go to Frizinghall myself to-morrow morning — and I shall 
be back by two o'clock, if not before. If Miss Verinder can 
be kept here till that time, I should wish to sav two words to 
her — unexpectedly — before she goes." 

My lady directed me to give the coachman her orders that 
the carriage was not to come for Miss Rachel until two 
o'clock. "Have you more to say?" she asked of the Sergeant, 
when this had been done. 

"Only one thing, your ladyship. If Miss Verinder is sur- 
prised at this change in the arrangements, please not to men- 
tion me as being the cause of putting off her journey." 

149 



THE MOONSTONE 

My mistress lifted her head suddenly from her book as if 
she was going to say something — checked herself by a great 
effort — and, looking back again at the open page, dismissed 
us with a sign of her hand. 

"That's a wonderful woman," said Sergeant Cufif, when we 
were out in the hall again. "But for her self-control the 
mystery that puzzles you, Mr. Betteredge, would have been 
at an end to-night." 

At those words the truth rushed at last into my stupid old 
head. For the moment I suppose I must have gone clean 
out of my senses. I seized the Sergeant by the collar of his 
coat and pinned him against the wall. 

"Damn you !" I cried out, "there's something wrong about 
Miss Rachel — and you have been hiding it from me all this 
time !" 

Sergeant Cuff looked up at me — flat against the wall — 
without stirring a hand or moving a muscle of his melan- 
choly face. 

"Ah," he said, "you've guessed it at last !" 

My hand dropped from his collar, and my head sank on 
my breast. Please to remember, as some excuse for my 
breaking out as I did, that I had served the family for fifty 
years. Miss Rachel had climbed upon my knees, and pulled 
my whiskers, many and many a time when she was a child. 
Miss Rachel, with all her faults, had been, to my mind, the 
dearest and prettiest and best young mistress that ever an old 
servant waited on, and loved. I begged Sergeant Cufif's par- 
don, but I am afraid I did it with watery eyes, and not in a 
very becoming way. 

"Don't distress yourself, Mr. Betteredge," says the Ser- 
geant, with more kindness than I had any right to expect 
from him. "In my line of life, if we were quick at taking 
offense we shouldn't be worth salt to our porridge. If it's 
any comfort to you, collar me again. You don't in the least 
know how to do it ; but I'll overlook your awkwardness in 
consideration of your feelings." 

He curled up at the corners of his lips, and, in his own 
dreary way, seemed to think he had delivered himself of a 
very good joke. 

150 



THE MOONSTONE 

I led him into my own little sitting-room and closed the 
door, 

"Tell me the truth, Sergeant," I said. "What do you sus- 
pect ? It's no kindness to hide it from me now." 

"I don't suspect," said Sergeant Cuff. "I know." 

My unlucky temper began to get the better of me again. 

"Do you mean to tell me in plain English," I said, "that 
Miss Rachel has stolen her own Diamond?" 

"Yes," says the Sergeant ; "that is what I mean to tell 
you in so many words. Miss Verinder has been in secret 
possession of the Moonstone from first to last ; and she has 
taken Rosanna Spearman into her confidence because she has 
calculated on our suspecting Rosanna Spearman of the theft. 
There is the whole case in a nut-shell. Collar me again, Mr. 
Betteredge. If it's any vent to your feelings, collar me 
again." 

God help me ! my feelings were not to be relieved in that 
way. "Give me your reasons !" That was all I could say to 
him. 

"You shall hear my reasons to-morrow," said the Ser- 
geant. "If Miss Verinder refuses to put off her visit to her 
aunt, which you will find Miss Verinder will do, I shall be 
obliged to lay the whole case before your mistress to-morrow. 
And as I don't know what may come of it, I shall request 
you to be present and to hear what passes on both sides. Let 
the matter rest for to-night. No, Mr. Betteredge, you don't 
get a word more on the subject of the Moonstone out of me. 
There is your table spread for supper. That's one of the 
many human infirmities which I always treat tenderly. If 
you will ring the bell, I'll say grace. 'For what we are going 
to receive — ' " 

"I wish you a good appetite to it, Sergeant," I said. "My 
appetite is gone. I'll wait and see you served, and then I'll 
ask you to excuse me if I go away and try to get the better 
of this by myself." 

I saw him served with the best of every thing — and I 
shouldn't have been sorry if the best of every thing had choked 
him. The head gardener, Mr. Begbie, came in at the same 
time with his weekly account. The Sergeant got on the sub- 



THE MOONSTONE 

ject of roses and the merits of grass walks and gravel walks 
immediately. I left the two together, and went out with a 
heavy heart. This was the first trouble I remember for many 
a long year which wasn't to be blown off by a whiff of tobacco, 
and which was even beyond the reach of Robinson Crusoe, 

Being restless and miserable, and having no particular room 
to go to, I took a turn on the terrace, and thought it over in 
peace and quietness by myself. It doesn't much matter what 
my thoughts were. I felt wretchedly old, and worn out, and 
unfit for my place — and began to wonder, for the first time 
in my life, when it would please God to take me. With all 
this I held firm, notwithstanding, to my belief in Miss Rachel. 
If Sergeant Cuff had been Solomon in all his glory, and had 
told me that my young lady had mixed herself up in a mean 
and guilty plot, I should have had but one answer for Solo- 
mon, wise as he was, "You don't know her, and I do." 

My meditations were interrupted by Samuel. He brought 
me a written message from my mistress. 

Going into the house to get a light to read it by, Samuel 
remarked that there seemed a change coming in the weather. 
My troubled mind had prevented me from noticing it before. 
But, now my attention was roused, I heard the dogs uneasy, 
and the wind moaning low. Looking up at the sky, I saw 
the rack of clouds getting blacker and blacker, and hurrying 
faster and faster over a watery moon. Wild weather coming 
— Samuel was right, wild weather coming. 

The message from my lady informed me that the magis- 
trate at Frizinghall had written to remind her about the three 
Indians. Early in the coming week the rogues must needs 
be released and left free to follow their own devices. If we 
had any more questions to ask them, there was no time to 
lose. Having forgotten to mention this when she had last 
seen Sergeant Cuff, my mistress now desired me to supply 
the omission. The Indians had gone clean out of my head, 
as they have, no doubt, gone clean out of yours. I didn't 
see much use in stirring that subject again. However, I 
obeyed my orders on the spot, as a matter of course. 

I found Sergeant Cuff and the gardener, with a bottle of 
Scotch whisky between them, head over ears in an argument 
on the growing of roses. The Sergeant was so deeply inter- 

152 



THE MOONSTONE 

ested that he held up his hand and signed to me not to 
interrupt the discussion, when I came in. As far as I could 
understand it, the question between them was, whether the 
white moss-rose did, or did not, require to be budded on the 
dog-rose to make it grow well. Mr. Begbie said, "Yes ;" and 
Sergeant Cuff said, "No." They appealed to me as hotly as 
a couple of boys. Knowing nothing whatever about the 
growing of roses, I steered a middle course — just as her 
majesty's judges do, when the scales of justice bother them 
by hanging, even to a hair. "Gentlemen," I remarked, "there 
is much to be said on both sides." In the temporary lull pro- 
duced by that impartial sentence I laid my lady's written 
message on the table under the eyes of Sergeant Cuff. 

I had got by this time as nearly as might be to hate the 
Sergeant. But truth compels me to acknowledge that, in 
respect of readiness of mind, he was a wonderful man. 

In half a minute after he had read the message he had 
looked back into his memory for Superintendent Seegrave's 
report ; had picked out that part of it in which the Indians 
were concerned : and was ready with his answer. A certain 
great traveler, who understood the Indians and their lan- 
guage, had figured in Mr. Seegrave's report, hadn't he? 
Very well. Did I know the gentleman's name and address? 
Very well again. Would I write them on the back of my 
lady's message? Much obliged to me. Sergeant Cuff would 
look that gentleman up when he went to Frizinghall in the 
morning. 

"Do you expect any thing .to come of it ?" I asked. "Super- 
intendent Seegrave found the Indians as innocent as the babe 
unborn." 

"Superintendent Seegrave has been proved wrong, up to 
this time, in all his conclusions," answered the Sergeant. "It 
may be worth while to find out to-morrow whether Superin- 
tendent Seegrave was wrong about the Indians as well." 
With that he turned to Mr. Begbie, and took up the argu- 
ment again exactly at the place where it had left off. "This 
question between us is a question of soils and seasons, and 
patience and pains, Mr. Gardener. Now let me put it to you 
from another point of view. You take your white moss- 
rose — " 



THE MOONSTONE 

By that time I had closed the door on them, and was out 
of hearing of the rest of the dispute. 

In the passage I met Penelope hanging about, and asked 
what she was waiting for. 

She was waiting for her young lady's bell, when her young 
lady chose to call her back to go on with the packing for the 
next day's journey. Further inquiry revealed to me that 
Miss Rachel had given it as a reason for wanting to go to 
her aunt at Frizinghall that the house was unendurable to her 
and that she could bear the odious presence of a policeman 
under the same roof with herself no longer. On being in- 
formed, half an hour since, that her departure would be 
delayed till two in the afternoon, she had flown into a violent 
passion. My lady, present at the time, had severely rebuked 
her, and then, having apparently something to say, which was 
reserved for her daughter's private ear, had sent Penelope 
out of the room. My girl was in wretchedly low spirits about 
the changed state of things in the house. "Nothing goes 
right, father ; nothing is like what it used to be. I feel as if 
some dreadful misfortune was hanging over us all." 

That was my feeling too. But I put a good face on it be- 
fore my daughter. Miss Rachel's bell rang while we were 
talking. Penelope ran up the back stairs to go on with the 
packing. I went by the other way to the hall, to see what 
the glass said about the change in the weather. 

Just as I approached the swing-door leading into the hall 
from the servants' ofifices, it was violently opened from the 
other side ; and Rosanna Spearman ran by me, with a miser- 
able look of pain in her face and one of her hands pressed 
hard over her heart, as if the pang was in that quarter. 
"What's the matter, my girl?" I asked, stopping her. "Are 
you ill ?" "For God's sake, don't speak to me," she answered 
and twisted herself out of my hands, and ran on toward the 
servants' staircase. I called to the cook, who was within hear- 
ing, to look after the poor girl. Two other persons proved 
to be within hearing as well as the cook. Sergeant Cuff 
darted softly out of my room, and asked what was the matter. 
I answered, "Nothing." Mr. Franklin, on the other side, 
pulled open the swing-door, and beckoning me into the hall, 
inquired if I had seen any thing of Rosanna Spearman, 



THE MOONSTONE 

"She has just passed me, sir, with a very disturbed face, 
and in a very odd manner." 

"I am afraid I am innocently the cause of that disturbance, 
Betteredge." 

''You, sir!" 

'T can't explain it," says Mr. Franklin ; "but if the girl is 
concerned in the loss of the Diamond, I do really believe she 
was on the point of confessing every thing — to me, of all the 
people in the world — not two minutes since." 

Looking toward the swing-door, as he said those last words, 
I fancied I saw it opened a little way from the inner side. 

Was there any body listening? The door fell to before I 
could get to it. Looking through, the moment after, I thought 
I saw the tails of Sergeant Cuff's respectable black coat dis- 
appearing round the corner of the passage. He knew as well 
as I did that he could expect no more help from me, now 
that I had discovered the turn which his investigations were 
really taking. LTnder those circumstances it was quite in his 
character to help himself, and to do it by the under-ground 
way. 

Not feeling sure that I had really seen the Sergeant — and 
not desiring to make needless mischief, where, Heaven knows, 
there was mischief enough going on already — I told Mr. 
Franklin that I thought one of the dogs had got into the 
house — and then begged him to describe what had happened 
between Rosanna and himself. 

"Were you passing through the hall, sir?" I asked. "Did 
you meet her accidentally, when she spoke to you?" 

Mr. Franklin pointed to the billiard-table. 

"I was knocking the balls about," he said, "and trying to 
get this miserable business of the Diamond out of my mind. 
I happened to look up — and there stood Rosanna Spearman 
at the side of me, like a ghost ! Her stealing on me in that 
way was so strange that I hardly knew what to do at first. 
Seeing a very anxious expression in her face. T asked her if 
she wished to speak to me. She answered. 'Yes, if I dare.' 
Knowing what suspicion attached to her, I could only put 
one construction to such language as that. T confess it made 
me uncomfortable. I had no wish to invite the girl's con- 
fidence. At the same time, in the difficulties that now beset 

15s 



THE MOONSTONE 

us, I could hardly feel justified in refusing to listen to her, 
if she was really bent on speaking to me. It was an awk- 
ward position; and I dare say I got out of it awkwardly 
enough. I said to her, 'I don't quite understand you. Is there 
any thing you want me to do?' Mind, Bettercdge, I didn't 
speak unkindly ! The poor girl can't help being ugly — I felt 
that at the time. The cue was still in my hand, and I went 
on knocking the balls about, to take off the awkwardness of 
the thing. As it turned out, I only made matters worse still. 
I'm afraid I mortified her without meaning it ! She sud- 
denly turned away. 'He looks at the billiard-balls,' I heard 
her say. 'Any thing rather than look at me!' Before I could 
stop her she had left the hall. I am not quite easy about it, 
Betteredge. Would you mind telling Rosanna that I meant 
no unkindness? I have been a little hard on her, perhaps, 
in my own thoughts — I have almost hoped that the loss of 
the Diamond might be traced to her. Not from any ill-will 
to the poor girl ; but — " He stopped there, and, going back 
to the billiard-table, began to knock the balls about once more. 

After what had passed between the Sergeant and me, I 
knew what it was that he had left tmspoken as well as he 
knew it himself. 

Nothing but the tracing of the Moonstone to our second 
house-maid could now raise Miss Rachel above the infamous 
suspicion that rested on her in the mind of Sergeant Cuff. 
It was no longer a question of quieting my young lady's 
nervous excitement; it was a question of proving her inno- 
cence. If Rosanna had done nothing to compromise herself, 
the hope which Mr. Franklin confessed to having felt would 
have been hard enough on her in all conscience. But this 
was not the case. She had pretended to be ill, and had gone 
secretly to Frizinghall. She had been up all night, making 
something, or destroying something, in private. And she had 
been at the Shivering Sand that evening under circum- 
stances which were highly suspicious, to say the least 
of them. For all these reasons, sorry as I was for Ro- 
sanna, I could not but think that Mr. Franklin's way of 
looking at the matter was neither unnatural nor unreason- 
able, in Mr. Franklin's position. I said a word to him to that 
effect. 

156 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Yes, yes!" he said, in return. "But there is just a chance 
— a very poor one, certainly — that Rosanna's conduct may 
admit of some explanation which we don't see at present. I 
hate hurting a woman's feelings, Betteredge ! Tell the poor 
creature what I told you to tell her. And if she wants to 
speak to me — I don't care whether I get into a scrape or not 
— send her to me in the library." With those kind words he 
laid down the cue and left me. 

Inquiry at the servants' offices informed me that Rosanna 
had retired to her own room. She had declined all offers of 
assistance with thanks, and had only asked to be left to rest 
in quiet. Here, therefore, was an end of any confession on 
her part, supposing she really had a confession to make, for 
that night. I reported the result to Mr. Franklin, who, there- 
upon, left the library, and went up to bed. 

I was putting the lights out, and making the windows fast, 
when Samuel came in with news of the two guests whom 
I had left in my room. The argument about the white moss- 
rose had apparently come to an end at last. The gardener 
had gone home, and Sergeant Cuff was nowhere to be found 
in the lower regions of the house. 

I looked into my room. Quite true — nothing was to be 
discovered there but a couple of empty tumblers and a strong 
smell of hot grog. Had the Sergeant gone of his own accord 
to the bed-chamber that was prepared for him? I went up 
stairs to see. 

After reaching the second landing, I thought I heard a 
sound of quiet and regular breathing on my left-hand side. 
My left-hand side led to the corridor which communicated 
with Miss Rachel's room. I looked in, and there, coiled up 
on three chairs placed right across the passage — there, with 
a red handkerchief tied round his grizzled head, and his re- 
spectable black coat rolled up for a pillow, lay and slept 
Sergeant Cuff ! 

He woke, instantly and quietly, like a dog, the moment I 
approached him. 

"Good-night, Mr. Betteredge," he said. "And mind, if 
you ever take to growing roses, the white moss-rose is all 
the better for not being budded on the dog-rose, whatever the 
gardener may say to the contrary !" 

157 



THE MOONSTONE 

"What are you doing here?" I asked. "Why are you not 
in your proper bed?" 

'T am not in my proper bed," answered the Sergeant, "be- 
cause I am one of the many people in this miserable world 
who can't earn their money honestly and easily at the same 
time. There was a coincidence, this evening, between the 
period of Rosanna Spearman's return from the Sands and the 
period when Miss Verinder took her resolution to leave the 
house. Whatever Rosanna may have hidden, it's clear to my 
mind that your young lady couldn't go away until she knew 
that it was hidden. The two must have communicated pri- 
vately once already to-night. If they try to communicate 
again, when the house is quiet, I want to be in the way, and 
stop it. Don't blame me for upsetting your sleeping arrange- 
ments, Mr. Betteredge — blame the Diamond." 

"I wish to God the Diamond had never found its way into 
this house !" I broke out. 

Sergeant Cuff looked with a rueful face at the three chairs 
on which he had condemned himself to pass the night. 

"So do I," he said, gravely. 



CHAPTER XVn. 

NOTHING happened in the night ; and, I am happy to 
add, no attempt at communication between Miss Rachel 
and Rosanna rewarded the vigilance of Sergeant Cuff. 

I had expected the Sergeant to set off for Frizinghall the 
first thing in the morning. He waited about, however, as 
if he had something else to do first. I left him to his own 
devices ; and going into the grounds shortly after, met Mr. 
Franklin on his favorite walk by the shrubbery side. 

Before we had exchanged two words the Sergeant un- 
expectedly joined us. He made up to Mr. Franklin, who 
received him, I must own, haughtily enough. "Have you any 
thing to say to me?" was all the return he got for politely 
wishing Mr. Franklin good-morning. 

"I have something to say to you, sir," answered the Ser- 
geant, "on the subject of the inquiry I am conducting here. 

158 



THE MOONSTONE 

You detected the turn that inquiry was really taking yester- 
day. Naturally enough, in your position, you are shocked 
and distressed. Naturally enough, also, you visit your own 
angry sense of your own family scandal upon me." 

"What do you want?" Mr. Franklin broke in, sharply 
enough. 

"I want to remind you, sir, that I have at any rate, thus 
far, not been proved to be wrong. Bearing that in mind, be 
pleased to remember, at the same time, that I am an officer 
of the law acting here under the sanction of the mistress of 
the house. Under these circumstances, is it, or is it not, your 
duty as a good citizen to assist me with any special informa- 
tion which you may happen to possess?" 

"I possess no special information," says Mr. Franklin. 

Sergeant Cuff put that answer by him, as if no answer had 
been made. 

"You may save my time, sir, from being wasted on an 
inquiry at a distance," he went on, "if you choose to under- 
stand me and speak out." 

"I don't understand you," answered Mr. Franklin; "and I 
have nothing to say." 

"One of the female servants, I won't mention names, spoke 
to you privately, sir, last night." 

Once more Mr. Franklin cut him short; once more Mr. 
Franklin answered, "I have nothing to say." 

Standing by in silence, I thought of the movement in the 
swing-door, on the previous evening, and of the coat-tails 
which I had seen disappearing down the passage. Sergeant 
Cuff had, no doubt, just heard enough before I interrupted 
him to make him suspect that Rosanna had relieved her mind 
by confessing something to Mr. Franklin Blake. 

This notion had barely struck me — when who should ap- 
pear at the end of the shrubbery walk but Rosanna Spearman 
in her own proper person ! She was followed by Penelope, 
who was evidently trying to make her retrace her steps to 
the house. Seeing that Mr. Franklin was not alone, Rosanna 
came to a stand-still, evidently in great perplexity what to 
do next. Penelope waited behind her. Mr. Franklin saw 
the girls as soon as I saw them. The Sergeant, with his 
devilish cuiming, took on not to have noticed tl'-cm at all. 

159 



THE MOONSTONE 

All this happened in an instant. Before either Mr. Franklin 
or I could say a word Sergeant Cuff struck in smoothly, with 
an appearance of continuing previous conversation. 

"You needn't be afraid of harming the girl, sir," he said, 
to Mr. Franklin, speaking in a loud voice, so that Rosanna 
might hear him. "On the contrary, I recommend you to 
honor me with your confidence, if you feel any interest in 
Rosanna Spearman." 

Mr. Franklin instantly took on not to have noticed the 
girls either. He answered, speaking loudly on his side : 

"I take no interest whatever in Rosanna Spearman." 

I looked toward the end of the walk. All I saw at the 
distance was that Rosanna suddenly turned round the moment 
Mr. Franklin had spoken. Instead of resisting Penelope, as 
she had done the moment before, she now let my daughter 
take her by the arm and lead her back to the house. 

The breakfast-bell rang as the two girls disappeared — and 
even Sergeant Cuff was now obliged to give it up as a bad 
job! He said to me quietly, "I shall go to Frizinghall, Mr. 
Betteredge ; and I shall be back before two." He went his 
way without a word more — and for some few hours we were 
well rid of him. 

"You must make it right with Rosanna," Mr. Franklin 
said to me when we were alone. "I seem to be fated to say 
or do something awkward before that unlucky girl. You 
must have seen yourself that Sergeant Cuff laid a trap for 
both of us. If he could confuse ntc, or irritate her into 
breaking out, either she or I might have said something which 
would answer his purpose. On the spur of the moment, I 
saw no better way out of it than the way I took. It 
stopped the girl from saying any thing, and it showed 
the Sergeant that I saw through him. He was evidently 
listening, Betteredge, when I was speaking to you last 
night." 

He had done worse than listen, as I privately thought to 
myself. He had remembered my telling him that the girl 
was in love with Mr. Franklin ; and he had calculated on that 
when he appealed to Mr. Franklin's interest in Rosanna — in 
Rosanna's hearing. 

"As to listening, sir," I remarked, keeping the other point 

i6c 



ih 



THE MOONSTONE 

to myself, "we shall all be rowing in the same boat if this 
sort of thing goes on much longer. Prying and peeping and 
listening are the natural occupations of people situated as we 
are. In another day or two, Mr. Franklin, we shall all be 
struck dumb together — for this reason, that we shall all be 
listening to surprise each other's secrets, and all know it. 
Excuse my breaking out, sir. The horrid mystery hanging 
over us in this house gets into my head like liquor, and makes 
me wild. I won't forget what you have told me. I'll take the 
first opportunity of making it right with Rosanna Spearman." 

"You haven't said any thing to her yet about last night, 
have you?" Mr. Franklin asked. 

"No, sir." 

"Then say nothing now. I had better not invite the girl's 
confidence, with the Sergeant on the look-out to surprise us 
together. My conduct is not very consistent, Betteredge — 
is it? I see no way out of this business which isn't dreadful 
to think of unless the Diamond is traced to Rosanna. And 
yet I can't and won't help Sergeant Cufif to find the girl out." 

Unreasonable enough, no doubt. But it was my state of 
mind as well. I thoroughly understood him. If you will, 
for once in your life, remember that you are mortal, perhaps 
you will thoroughly understand him too. 

The state of things, indoors and out, while Sergeant Cuff 
was on his way to Frizinghall, was briefly this : 

Miss Rachel waited for the time when the carriage was to 
take her to her aunt's, still obstinately shut up in her own 
room. My lady and Mr. Franklin breakfasted together. 
After breakfast Mr. Franklin took one of his sudden resolu- 
tions and went out precipitately to quiet his mind by a long 
walk. I was the only person who saw him go ; and he told 
me he should be back before the Sergeant returned. The 
change in the weather, foreshadowed overnight, had come. 
Heavy rain had been followed, soon after dawn, by high wind. 
It was blowing fresh as the day got on. But though the 
clouds threatened more than once the rain still held off. It 
was not a bad day for a walk, if you were young and strong, 
and could breast the great gusts of wind which came sweep- 
ing in from the sea. 

I attended my lady after breakfast, and assisted her in the 
11 i6i 



THE MOONSTONE 

settlement of our household accounts. She only once alluded 
to the matter of the Moonstone, and that was in the way of 
forbidding any present mention of it between us. "Wait till 
that man comes back," she said, meaning the Sergeant. "We 
must speak of it then : we are not obliged to speak of it now." 

After leaving my mistress I found Penelope waiting for me 
in my room. 

"I wish, father, you would come and speak to Rosanna," 
she said. "I am very uneasy about her." 

I suspected what was the matter readily enough. But it 
is a maxim of mine that men, being superior creatures, are 
bound to improve women — if they can. When a woman 
wants me to do any thing, my daughter or not it doesn't 
matter, I always insist on knowing why. The oftener you 
make them rummage their own minds for a reason, the more 
manageable you will find them in all the relations of 
life. It isn't their fault — poor wretches ! — that they act 
first, and think afterward ; it's the fault of the fools who 
humor them. 

Penelope's reason why, on this occasion, may be given in 
her own words. "Fm afraid, father," she said, "Mr. Frank- 
lin has hurt Rosanna cruelly without intending it." 

"What took Rosanna into the shrubbery walk?" I asked. 

"Her own madness," says Penelope ; "I can call it nothing 
else. She was bent on speaking to Mr. Franklin this morn- 
ing, come what might of it. I did my best to stop her ; you 
saw that. If I could only have got her away before she heard 
those dreadful words — " 

"There ! there !" I said, "don't lose your head. I can't call 
to mind that any thing happened to alarm Rosanna." 

"Nothing to alarm her, father. But Mr. Franklin said he 
took no interest whatever in her — and, oh, he said it in such 
a cruel voice !" 

"He said it to stop the Sergeant's mouth," I answered. 

"I told her that," says Penelope. "But you see, father, 
though Mr. Franklin isn't to blame, he's been mortifying and 
disappointing her for weeks and weeks past ; and now this 
comes on the top of it all ! She has no right, of course, to 
expect him to take any interest in her. It's quite monstrous 
that she should forget herself and her station in that way. 

162 



. THE MOONSTONE 

But she seems to have lost pride and proper feeUng and every 
thing. She frightened me, father, when Mr. Frankhn said 
those words. They seemed to turn her into stone. A sudden 
quiet came over her, and she has gone about her work ever 
since Hke a woman in a dream." 

I began to feel a little uneasy. There was something in 
the way Penelope put it which silenced my superior sense. 
I called to mind, now my thoughts were directed that way, 
what had passed between Mr. Franklin and Rosanna over- 
night. She looked cut to the heart on that occasion ; and now, 
as ill-luck would have it, she had been unavoidably stung 
again, poor soul, on the tender place. Sad ! sad ! — all the 
more sad because the girl had no reason to justify her, and no 
right to feel it. 

I had promised Mr. Franklin to speak to Rosanna, and this 
seemed the fittest time for keeping my word. 

We found the girl sweeping the corridor outside the bed- 
rooms, pale and composed, and neat as ever in her modest 
print dress. I noticed a curious dimness and dullness in her 
eyes — not as if she had been crying, but as if she had been 
looking at something too long. Possibly it was a misty 
something raised by her own thoughts. There was certainly 
no object about her to look at which she had not seen already 
hundreds on hundreds of times. 

"Cheer up, Rosanna !" I said. "You mustn't fret over 
your own fancies. I have got something to say to you from 
Mr. Franklin." 

I thereupon put the matter in the right view before her, in 
the friendliest and most comforting words I could find. My 
principles, in regard to the other sex, are, as you may have 
noticed, very severe. But somehow or other when I come 
face to face with the women, my practice, I own, is not com- 
formable. 

"Mr. Franklin is very kind and considerate. Please to 
thank him." That was all the answer she made me. 

My daughter had already noticed that Rosanna went about 
her work like a woman in a dream. I now added to this 
observation that she also listened and spoke like a woman 
in a dream. I doubted if her mind was in a fit condition to 
take in what I had said to her. 

163 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Are you quite sure, Rosanna, that you understand me?" 
I asked. 

"Quite sure." 

She echoed me, not hke a Hving woman, but like a creature 
moved by machinery. She went on sweeping all the time. 
I took away the broom as gently and as kindly as I 
could. 

"Come, come, my girl !" I said, "this is not like yourself. 
You have got something on your mind. I'm your friend — 
and I'll stand your friend, even if you have done wrong. 
Make a clean breast of it, Rosanna — make a clean breast of 
it !" 

The time had been, when my speaking to her in that way 
would have brought the tears into her eyes. I could see no 
change in them now. 

"Yes," she said, "I'll make a clean breast of it." 

"To my lady?" I asked. 

"No." 

"To Mr. Franklin ?" 

"Yes; to Mr. FrankHn." 

I hardly knew what to say to that. She was in no condition 
to understand the caution against speaking to him in private, 
which Mr. Franklin had directed me to give her. Feeling 
my way, little by little, I only told her Mr. Franklin had gone 
out for a walk. 

"It doesn't matter," she answered. "I sha'n't trouble Mr. 
Franklin to-day." 

"Why not speak to my lady?" I said. "The way to re- 
lieve your mind is to speak to the merciful and Christian 
mistress who has always been kind to you." 

She looked at me for a moment with a grave and steady 
attention, as if she was fixing what I said in her mind. Then 
she took the broom out of my hands, and moved off with it 
slowly, a little way down the corridor. 

"No," she said, going on with her sweeping, and speaking 
to herself; "T know a better way of relieving my mind than 
that." 

"What is it?" 

"Please to let me go on with my work." 

Penelope followed her, and offered to help her. 

164 



THE MOONSTONE 

She answered, "No. I want to do my work. Thank you, 
Penelope." She looked round at me. "Thank you, Mr. Bet- 
teredge." 

There was no moving her — there was nothing more to be 
said. I signed to Penelope to come away with me. We left 
her, as we had found her, sweeping the corridor like a woman 
in a dream. 

"This is a matter for the doctor to look into,-' I said. "It's 
beyond me." 

My daughter reminded me of Mr. Candy's illness, owing, 
as you may remember, to the chill he had caught on the night 
of the dinner-party. His assistant — a certain Mr. Ezra Jen- 
nings — was at our disposal, to be sure. But nobody knew 
much about him in our parts. He had been engaged by Mr. 
Candy under rather peculiar circumstances ; and, right or 
wrong, we none of us liked him or trusted him. There were 
other doctors at Frizinghall. But they were strangers to our 
house ; and Penelope doubted, in Rosanna's present state, 
whether strangers might not do her more harm than good. 

I thought of speaking to my lady. But, remembering the 
heavy weight of anxiety which she already had on her mind, 
I hesitated to add to all the other vexations this new trouble. 
Still, there was a necessity for doing something. The girl's 
state was, to my thinking, downright alarming — and my mis- 
tress ought to be informed of it. Unwillingly enough I went 
to her sitting-room. No one was there. My lady was shut 
up with Miss Rachel. It was impossible for me to see her 
till she came out again. 

I waited in vain till the clock on the front staircase struck 
the quarter to two. Five minutes afterward I heard my 
name called from the drive outside the house. I knew the 
voice directly. Sergeant Cuff had returned from Frizinghall. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

GOING down to the front-door I met the Sergeant on the 
steps. 
It went against the grain with mc, after what had passed 
between us, to show him that I felt any sort of interest in 

165 



THE MOONSTONE 

his proceedings. In spite of myself, however, I felt an inter- 
est that there was no resisting. My sense of dignity sank 
from under me, and out came the words, "What news from 
Frizinghall ?" 

*T have seen the Indians," answered Sergeant Cuff. "And 
I have found out what Rosanna bought privately in the town 
on Thursday last. The Indians will be set free on Wednes- 
day in next week. There isn't a doubt on my mind, and there 
isn't a doubt on Mr. Murthwaite's mind, that they came to 
this place to steal the Moonstone. Their calculations were 
all thrown out, of course, by what happened in the house on 
Wednesday night ; and they have no more to do with the 
actual loss of the jewel than you have. But I can tell you one 
thing, Mr, Betteredge — if we don't find the Moonstone, they 
will. You have not heard the last of the three jugglers yet." 

Mr. Franklin came back from his walk as the Sergeant 
said those startling words. Governing his curiosity better 
than I had governed mine, he passed us without a word, and 
went on into the house. 

As for me, having already dropped my dignity, I deter- 
mined to have the whole benefit of the sacrifice. "So much 
for the Indians," I said. "What about Rosanna, next ?" 

Sergeant Cuff shook his head. 

"The mystery in that quarter is thicker than ever," he 
said. "I have traced her to a shop at Frizinghall, kept by a 
linen-draper named Maltby. She bought nothing whatever 
at any of the other drapers' shops, or at any milliners' or 
tailors' shops ; and she bought nothing at Maltby's but a piece 
of long cloth. She was very particular in choosing a certain 
quality. As to quantity, she bought enough to make a night- 
gown." 

"Whose night-gown?" I asked. 

"Her own, to be sure. Between twelve and three, on the 
Thursday morning, she must have slipped down to your 
young lady's room to settle the hiding of the Moonstone, 
while all the rest of you were in bed. In going back to her 
own room her night-gown must have brushed the wet paint 
on the door. She couldn't wash out the stain ; and she couldn't 
safely destroy the night-gown — without first providing an- 
other like it, to make the inventory of her linen complete." 

i66 



THE MOONSTONE 

"What proves that it was Rosanna's night-gown?" I ob- 
jected. 

"The material she bought for making the substitute dress," 
answered the Sergeant. "If it had been Miss Verinder's 
night-gown, she would have had to buy lace, and frilling, and 
Lord knows what besides ; and she wouldn't have had time 
to make it in one night. Plain long cloth means a plain 
servant's night-gown. No, no, Mr. Betteredge — all that is 
clear enough. The pinch of the cjuestion is — why, after hav- 
ing provided the substitute dress, does she hide the smeared 
night-gown, instead of destroying it? If the girl won't speak 
out, there is only one way of settling the difficulty. The 
hiding-place at the Shivering Sand must be searched — and 
the true state of the case will be discovered there." 

"How are you to find the place?" I inquired. 

"I am sorry to disappoint you," said the Sergeant — "but 
that's a secret which I mean to keep to myself." 

Not to irritate your curiosity, as he irritated mine, I may 
here inform you that he had come back from Frizinghall, 
provided with a search-warrant. His experience in such mat- 
ters told him that Rosanna was in all probability carrying 
about her a memorandum of the hiding-place to guide her, 
in case she returned to it, under changed circumstances and 
after a lapse of time. Possessed of this memorandum, the 
Sergeant would be furnished with all that he could desire. 

"Now, Mr. Betteredge," he went on, "suppose we drop 
speculation, and get to business. I told Joyce to have an eye 
on Rosanna. Where is Joyce?" 

Joyce was the Frizinghall policeman, who had been left 
by Superintendent Seegrave at Sergeant Cuff's disposal. The 
clock struck two as he put the question, and, punctual to the 
moment, the carriage came round to take Miss Rachel to her 
aunt's. 

"One thing at a time," said the Sergeant, stopping me as 
I was about to send in search of Joyce. "I must attend to 
Miss Verinder first." 

As the rain was still threatening, it was the close carriage 
that had been appointed to take Miss Rachel to Frizinghall. 
Sergeant Cuff beckoned Samuel to come down to him from 
the rumble behind. 

167 



THE MOONSTONE 

"You will see a friend of mine waiting among the trees, 
on this side of the lodge-gate," he said. "My friend, with- 
out stopping the carriage, will get up into the rumble with 
you. You have nothing to do but to hold your tongue, and 
shut your eyes. Otherwise, you will get into trouble." 

With that advice he sent the footman back to his place. 
What Samuel thought, I don't know. It was plain, to my 
mind, that Miss Rachel was to be privately kept in view from 
the time she left our house — if she did leave it. A watch 
set on my young lady ! A spy behind her in the rumble of 
her mother's carriage ! I could have cut my own tongue out 
for having forgotten myself so far as to speak to Sergeant 
Cufif. 

The first person to come out of the house was my lady. 
She stood aside, on the top step, posting herself there to see 
what happened. Not a word did she say, either to the Ser- 
geant or to me. With her lips closed, and her arms folded 
in the light garden-cloak which she had wrapped round her 
on coming into the air, there she stood, as still as a statue, 
waiting for her daughter to appear. 

In a minute more Miss Rachel came down stairs, very 
nicely dressed in some soft yellow stufif that set off her dark 
complexion, and clipped her tight, in the form of a jacket, 
round the waist. She had a smart little straw-hat on her 
head, with a white veil twisted round it. She had primrose- 
colored gloves that fitted her hands like a second skin. Her 
beautiful black hair looked as smooth as satin under her hat. 
Her little ears were like rosy shells — they had a pearl dangling 
from each of them. She came swiftly out to us, as straight 
as a lily on its stem, and as lithe and supple in every move- 
ment she made as a young cat. Nothing that I could dis- 
cover was altered in her pretty face but her eyes and her lips. 
Her eyes were brighter and fiercer than I liked to see ; and 
her lips had so completely lost their color and their smile that 
I hardly knew them again. She kissed her mother in a hasty 
and sudden manner on the cheek. She said, "Try to forgive 
me, mamma — " and then pulled down her veil over her face 
so vehemently that she tore it. In another moment she had 
run down the steps, and had rushed into the carriage as if 
it was a hiding-place. 



THE MOONSTONE 

Sergeant Cuff was just as quick on his side. He put Sam- 
uel back, and stood before Miss Rachel, with the open 
carriage-door in his hand, at the instant when she settled 
herself in her place. 

"What do you want?" says Miss Rachel, from behind her 
veil. 

'T want to say one word to you, miss," answered the Ser- 
geant, "before you go. I can't presume to stop your paying 
a visit to your aunt. I can only venture to say that your 
leaving us, as things are now, puts an obstacle in the way of 
my recovering your Diamond. Please to understand that; 
and now decide for yourself whether you go or stay." 

Miss Rachel never even answered him. "Drive on, James !" 
she called out to the coachman. 

Without another word the Sergeant shut the carriage- 
door. Just as he closed it Mr. Franklin came running down 
the steps. "Good-bye, Rachel," he said, holding out his 
hand. 

"Drive on !" cried Miss Rachel, louder than ever, and tak- 
ing no more notice of Mr. Franklin than she had taken of 
Sergeant Cuff. 

Mr. Franklin stepped back, thunderstruck, as well he might 
be. The coachman, not knowing what to do, looked toward 
my lady, still standing immovable on the top step. My lady, 
with anger and sorrow and shame all struggling together in 
her face, made him a sign to start the horses, and then turned 
back hastily into the house. Mr. Franklin, recovering the 
use of his speech, called after her, as the carriage drove off, 
"Aunt ! you were quite right. Accept my thanks for all your 
kindness — and let me go." 

My lady turned as though to speak to him. Then, as if 
distrusting herself, waved her hand kindly. "Let me see you 
before you leave us, Franklin," she said, in a broken voice — 
and went on to her own room. 

"Do me a last favor, Betteredge," says Mr. Franklin, turn- 
ing to me, with the tears in his eyes. "Get me away to the 
train as soon as you can !" 

He too went his way into the house. For the moment Miss 
Rachel had completely unmanned him. Judge from that how 
fond he must have been of her ! 

169 



THE MOONSTONE 

Sergeant Cuff and I were left face to face at the bottom 
of the steps. The Sergeant stood with his face set toward a 
gap in the trees, commanding a view of one of the windings 
of the drive which led from the house. He had his hands in 
his pockets, and he was softly whistling the Last Rose of 
Summer to himself. 

"There's a time for every thing," I said, savagely enough. 
"This isn't a time for whistling." 

At that moment the carriage appeared in the distance, 
through the gap, on its way to the lodge-gate. There was 
another man besides Samuel plainly visible in the rumble 
behind. 

"All right !" said the Sergeant to himself. He turned 
round to me. "It's no time for whistling, Mr. Betteredge, 
as you say. It's time to take this business in hand now with- 
out sparing any body. We'll begin with Rosanna Spearman. 
Where is Joyce?" 

We both called for Joyce, and received no answer. I sent 
one of the stable-boys to look for him. 

"You heard what I said to Miss Verinder?" remarked the 
Sergeant, while we were waiting. "And you saw how she 
received it? I tell her plainly that her leaving us will be an 
obstacle in the way of my recovering her Diamond — and she 
leaves, in the face of that statement! Your young lady has 
got a traveling companion in her mother's carriage, Mr. Bet- 
teredge — and the name of it is, The Moonstone." 

I said nothing. I only held on like death to my belief in 
Miss Rachel. 

The stable-boy came back, followed — very unwillingly, as 
it appeared to me — by Joyce. 

"Where is Rosanna Spearman?" asked Sergeant Cuff. 

"I can't account for it, sir," Joyce began; "and I am very 
sorry. But somehow or other — " 

"Before I went to Frizinghall," said the Sergeant, cutting 
him short, "I told you to keep your eye on Rosanna Spear- 
man, without allowing her to discover that she was being 
watched. Do you mean to tell me that you have let her give 
you the slip?" 

"I am afraid, sir," says Joyce, beginning to tremble, "that 
I was perhaps a little too careful not to let her discover me. 

170 



THE MOONSTONE 

There are such a many passages in the lower parts of this 
house — " 

"How long is it since you missed her?" 

"Nigh on an hour since, sir." 

"You can go back to your regular business at Frizing- 
hall," said the Sergeant, speaking just as composedly as ever, 
in his usual quiet and dreary way. 'T don't think your tal- 
ents are at all in our line, Mr. Joyce. Your present form of 
employment is a trifle beyond you. Good-morning." 

The man slunk off. I find it very difficult to describe how 
I was affected by the discovery that Rosanna Spearman was 
missing. I seemed to be in fifty different minds about it, all 
at the same time. In that state I stood staring at Sergeant 
Cuff — and my powers of language quite failed me. 

"No, Mr. Betteredge," said the Sergeant, as if he had dis- 
covered the uppermost thought in me, and was picking it 
out to be answered, before all the rest. "Your young friend, 
Rosanna, won't slip through my fingers so easily as you 
think. As long as I know where Miss Verinder is, I have 
the means at my disposal of tracing Miss Verinder's accom- 
plice. I prevented them from communicating last night. 
Very good. They will get together at Frizinghall instead 
of getting together here. The present inquiry must be simply 
shifted, rather sooner than I had anticipated, from this house 
to the house at which Miss Verinder is visiting. In the mean 
time, I'm afraid I must trouble you to call the servants 
together again." 

I went round with him to the servants' hall. It is very 
disgraceful, but it is none the less true, that I had another 
attack of the detective-fever when he said those last words. 
I forgot that I hated Sergeant Cuff. I seized him confiden- 
tially by the arm, I said, "For goodness' sake, tell us what 
you are going to do with the servants now?" 

The great Cuff stood stock-still, and addressed himself in 
a kind of melancholy rapture to the empty air. 

"If this man," said the Sergeant, apparently meaning me, 
"only understood the growing of roses, he would be the most 
completely perfect character on the face of creation !" After 
that strong expression of feeling he sighed, and put his arm 
through mine. "This is how it stands," he said, dropping 

171 



THE MOONSTONE 

down again to business. "Rosanna has clone one of two 
things. She has either gone direct to Frizinghall, before I 
can get there, or she has gone first to visit her hiding-place 
at the Shivering Sand. The first thing to find out is, which 
of the servants saw the last of her before she left the house." 

On instituting this inquiry, it turned out that the last 
person who had set eyes on Rosanna was Nancy, the kitchen- 
maid. 

Nancy had seen her slip out with a letter in her hand, 
and stop the butcher's man, who had just been deliv.ering 
some meat at the back-door. Nancy had heard her ask the 
man to post the letter when he got back to Frizinghall. The 
man had looked at the address, and had said it was a round- 
about way of delivering a letter, directed to Cobb's Hole, to 
post it at Frizinghall — and that, moreover, on a Saturday, 
which would prevent the letter from getting to its destination 
until Monday morning. Rosanna had answered that the de- 
livery of the letter being delayed till Monday was of no 
importance. The only thing she wished to be sure of was 
that the man would do what she told him. The man had 
promised to do it and had driven away. Nancy had been 
called back to her work in the kitchen. And no other person 
had seen any thing afterward of Rosanna Spearman. 

"Well?" I asked, when we were alone again. 

"Well," says the Sergeant. "I must go to Frizinghall." 

"About the letter, sir?" 

"Yes. The memorandum of the hiding-place is in that 
letter. I must see the address at the post-office. If it is the 
address I suspect, I shall pay our friend Mrs. Yolland another 
visit on Alonday next." 

I went with the Sergeant to order the pony-chaise. In 
the stable-yard we got a new light thrown on the missing 
girl. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

THE news of Rosanna's disappearance had, as it ap- 
peared, spread among the outdoor servants. They too 
had made their inquiries ; and they had just laid hands on a 

172 



THE MOONSTONE 

quick little imp, nicknamed "Duffy" — who was occasionally 
employed in weeding the garden, and who had seen Rosanna 
Spearman as lately as half an hour since. Duffy was certain 
that the girl had passed him in the fir-plantation, not walking, 
but running, in the direction of the sea-shore. 

"Does this boy know the coast hereabouts?" asked Ser- 
geant Cuff. 

"He has been born and bred on the coast," I answered. 

"Duffy !" says the Sergeant, "do you want to earn a shil- 
ling? If you do, come along with me. Keep the pony-chaise 
ready, Mr. Betteredge, till I come back." 

He started for the Shivering Sand at a rate that my legs, 
though well enough preserved for my time of life, had no 
hope of matching. Little Duffy, as the way is with the young 
savages in our parts when they are in high spirits, gave a 
howl, and trotted off at the Sergeant's heels. 

Here, again, I find it impossible to give any thing like a 
clear account of the state of my mind in the interval after 
Sergeant Cuff had left us. A curious and stupefying rest- 
lessness got possession of me. I did a dozen different need- 
less things in and out of the house, not one of which I can 
now remember. I don't even know how long it was after 
the Sergeant had gone to the sands when Duffy came running 
back with a message for me. Sergeant Cuff had given the 
boy a leaf torn out of his pocket-book, on which was written 
in pencil, "Send me one of Rosanna Spearman's boots, and 
be quick about it." 

I dispatched the first woman-servant I could find to Ro- 
sanna's room ; and I sent the boy back to say that I myself 
would follow him with the boot. 

This, I am well aware, was not the quickest way to take 
of obeying the directions which I had received. But I was 
resolved to see for myself what new mystification was going 
on, before I trusted Rosanna's boot in the Sergeant's hands. 
My old notion of screening the girl if I could seemed to have 
come back on me again at the eleventh hour. This state of 
feeling, to say nothing of the detective-fever, hurried me off, 
as soon as the boot was put in my hands, at the nearest ap- 
proach to a run which a man turned seventy can reasonably 
hope to make. 

173 



THE MOONSTONE 

As T got near the shore the clouds gathered black and the 
rain came down, drifting in great white sheets of water before 
the wind. I heard the thunder of the sea on the sand-bank, 
at the mouth of the bay. A little farther on I passed the boy 
crouching for shelter under the lee of the sand-hills. Then 
I saw the raging sea, and the rollers tumbling in on the sand- 
bank, and the driven rain sweeping over the waters like a 
flying garment, and the yellow wilderness of the beach with 
one solitary black figure standing on it — the figure of Ser- 
geant Cufif. 

He waved his hand toward the north when he first saw 
me. "Keep on that side !" he shouted. "And come on down 
here to me !" 

I went down to him, choking for breath, with my heart 
leaping as if it was like to leap out of me. I was past speak- 
ing. I had a hundred questions to put to him ; and not one 
of them would pass my lips. His face frightened me. I saw 
a look in his eyes which was a look of horror. He snatched 
the boot out of my hand, and set it in a foot-mark on the 
sand, bearing south from us as we stood, and pointing straight 
toward the rocky ledge called the South Spit. The mark 
was not yet blurred out by the rain — and the girl's boot fitted 
it to a hair. 

The Sergeant pointed to the boot in the foot-mark, without 
saying a word. 

I caught at his arm and tried to speak to him, and failed 
as I had failed when I tried before. He went on, following 
the footsteps down and down to where the rocks and the 
sand joined. The South Spit was just awash with the flow- 
ing tide ; the waters heaved over the hidden face of the 
Shivering Sand. Now this way and now that, with an obsti- 
nate silence that fell on you like lead, with an obstinate 
patience that was dreadful to see. Sergeant Cufif tried the 
boot in the footsteps, and always found it pointing the same 
way — straight to the rocks. Hunt as he might, no sign could 
he find anywhere of the footsteps walking from them. 

He gave it up at last. He looked again at me ; and then 
he looked out at the waters before us, heaving in deeper and 
deeper over the hidden face of the Shivering Sand. I looked 
where he looked — and T saw his thought in his face. A 

174 



THE MOONSTONE 

dreadful dumb trembling crawled all over me on a sudden. 
I fell upon my knees on the sand. 

"She has been back at the hiding-place," I heard the Ser- 
geant say to himself. "Some fatal accident has happened to 
her on those rocks." 

The girl's altered looks, and words, and actions — the 
numbed, deadened way in which she listened to me and spoke 
to me, when I had found her sweeping the corridor but a few 
hours since, rose up in my mind and warned me, even as the 
Sergeant spoke, that his guess was wide of the dreadful truth. 
I tried to tell him of the fear that had frozen me up. I 
tried to say, "The death she has died. Sergeant, was a death 
of her own seeking." No ! the words wouldn't come. The 
dumb trembling held me in its grip. I couldn't feel the driv- 
ing rain. I couldn't see the rising tide. As in the vision of 
a dream the poor lost creature came back before me. I saw 
her again as I had seen her in the past time — on the morning 
when I went to fetch her into the house. I heard her again, 
telling me that the Shivering Sand seemed to draw her to it 
against her will, and wondering whether her grave was wait- 
ing for her there. The horror of it struck at me, in 
some unfathomable way, through my own child. My girl 
was just her age. My girl, tried as Rosanna was tried, 
might have lived that miserable life, and died this dreadful 
death. 

The Sergeant kindly lifted me up and turned me away 
from the sight of the place where she had perished. 

With that relief I began to fetch my breath again, and to 
see things about me as things really were. Looking toward 
the sand-hills, I saw the men-servants from out-of-doors, and 
the fisherman named Yolland, all running down to us to- 
gether ; and all having taken the alarm, calling out to know 
if the girl had been found. In the fewest words the Ser- 
geant showed them the evidence of the foot-marks, and told 
them that a fatal accident must have happened to her. He 
then picked out the fisherman from the rest, and put a ques- 
tion to him, turning about again toward the sea : "Tell me 
this," he said. "Could a boat have taken her off from that 
ledge of rock where her foot-marks stop ?" 

The fisherman pointed to the rollers tumbling in on the 

175 



THE MOONSTONE 

sand-bank, and to the great waves leaping up in clouds of 
foam against the headlands on either side of us. 

"No boat that ever was built," he answered, "could have 
got to her through that." 

Sergeant Cuff looked for the last time at the foot-marks 
on the sand, which the rain was now fast blurring out. 

"There," he said, "is the evidence that she can't have left 
this place by land. And here," he went on, looking at the 
fisherman, "is the evidence that she can't have got away by 
sea." He stopped and considered for a minute. "She was 
seen running toward this place, half an hour before I got 
here from the house," he said to Yolland. "Some time has 
passed since then. Call it altogether an hour ago. How high 
would the water be at that time on this side of the rocks?" 
He pointed to the south side — otherwise, the side which was 
not filled up by the quicksand. 

"As the tide makes to-day," said the fisherman, "there 
wouldn't have been water enough to drown a kitten on that 
side of the Spit an hour since." 

Sergeant Cufif turned about northward toward the quick- 
sand. 

"How much on this side?" he asked. 

"Less still," answered Yolland. "The Shivering Sand 
would have been just awash, and no more." 

The Sergeant turned to me, and said that the accident 
must have happened on the side of the quicksand. My tongue 
was loosened at that. "No accident !" I told him. "When 
she came to this place she came, weary of her life, to end it 
here." 

He started back from me. "How do you know?" he 
asked. The rest of them crowded round. The Sergeant re- 
covered himself instantly. He put them back from me ; he 
said I was an old man ; he said the discovery had shaken me ; 
he said, "Let him alone a little." Then he turned to Yolland 
and asked, "Is there any chance of finding her when the tide 
ebbs again?" And Yolland answered, "None. What the 
Sand gets the Sand keeps forever." Having said that, the 
fisherman came a step nearer and addressed himself to me. 

"Mr. Betteredge," he said, "I have a word to say to you 
about the young woman's death. Four foot out, broadwise, 

176 



THE MOONSTONE 

along the side of the Spit, there's a shelf of rock about half 
fathom down under the sand. My question is — why didn't 
she strike that? If she slipped, by accident, from off the 
Spit, she fell in, where there's foothold at the bottom, at a 
depth that would barely cover her to the waist. She must 
have waded out, or jumped out, into the Deeps beyond — or 
she wouldn't be missing now. No accident, sir ! The Deeps 
of the Quicksand have got her. And they have got her by 
her own act." 

After that testimony from a man whose knowledge was 
to be relied on the Sergeant was silent. The rest of us, like 
him, held our peace. With one accord we all turned back 
up the slope of the beach. 

At the sand-hillocks we were met by the under-groom, 
running to us from the house. The lad is a good lad, and 
has an honest respect for me. He handed me a little note, 
with a decent sorrow in his face. "Penelope sent me with this, 
Mr. Betteredge," he said. "She found it in Rosanna's room." 

It was her last farewell word to the old man who had done 
his best — thank God, always done his best — to befriend her. 

"You have often forgiven me, Mr. Betteredge, in past 
times. When you next see the Shivering Sand, try to for- 
give me once more. I have found my grave where my grave 
was waiting for me. I have lived, and died, sir, grateful for 
your kindness." 

There was no more than that. Little as it was, I hadn't 
manhood enough to hold up against it. Your tears come 
easy, when you're young, and beginning the world. Your 
tears come easy, when you're old, and leaving it. I burst out 
crying. 

Sergeant Cuff took a step nearer to me — meaning kindly, 
I don't doubt. I shrank back from him. "Don't touch me," 
I said. "It's the dread of you that has driven her to it." 

"You are wrong, Mr. Betteredge," he answered, quietly. 
"But there will be time enough to speak of it when we are 
all indoors again." 

I followed the rest of them with the help of the under- 
groom's arm. Through the driving rain we went back — to 
meet the trouble and the terror that were waiting for us at 
the house. 

177 



THE MOONSTONE 



CHAPTER XX. 

THOSE in front had spread the news before us. We 
found the servants in a state of panic. As we passed 
my lady's door it was thrown open violently from the inner 
side. My mistress came out among us, with Mr. Franklin 
following and trying vainly to compose her, quite beside her- 
self with the horror of the thing. 

*'You are answerable for this !" she cried out, threatening 
the Sergeant wildly with her hand. "Gabriel ! give that 
wretch his money — and release me from the sight of him !" 

The Sergeant was the only one among us who was fit to 
cope with her — being the only one among us who was in 
possession of himself. 

"I am no more answerable for this distressing calamity, 
my lady, than you are," he said. "If, in half an hour from 
this, you still insist on my leaving the house, I will accept 
your ladyship's dismissal, but not your ladyship's money." 

It was spoken very respectfully, but very firmly at the same 
time — and it had its efifect on my mistress as well as on me. 
She suffered Mr. Franklin to lead her back into the room. 
As the door closed on the two, the Sergeant, looking about 
among the women-servants in his observant way, noticed that, 
while all the rest were merely frightened, Penelope was in 
tears. "When your father has changed his wet clothes," he 
said to her, "come and speak to us in your father's room." 

Before the half hour was out I had got my dry clothes on, 
and had lent Sergeant Cuff such change of dress as he re- 
quired. Penelope came in to us to hear what the Sergeant 
wanted with her. I don't think I ever felt what a good duti- 
ful daughter I had so strongly as I felt it at that moment. 
I took her and sat her on my knee — and I prayed God bless 
her. She hid her head on my bosom, and put her arms round 
my neck — and we waited a little while in silence. The poor 
dead girl must have been at the bottom of it, I think, with 
my daughter and with me. The Sergeant went to the window 
and stood there looking out. I thought it right to thank 
him for considering us both in this way — and I did. 

People in high life have all the luxuries to themselves— 



THE MOONSTONE 

among others the luxury of indulging their feelings. People 
in low life have no such privilege. Necessity, which spares 
our betters, has no pity on us. We learn to put our feelings 
back into ourselves, and to jog on with our duties as patiently 
as may be. I don't complain of this — I only notice it. Penel- 
ope and I were ready for the Sergeant as soon as the Ser- 
geant was ready on his side. Asked if she knew what had 
led her fellow-servant to destroy herself, my daughter an- 
swered, as you will foresee, that it was for love of Mr. Frank- 
lin Blake. Asked next if she had mentioned this notion of 
hers to any other person, Penelope answered, "I have not 
mentioned it, for Rosanna's sake." I felt it necessary to add 
a word to this. I said, "And for Mr. Franklin's sake, my 
dear, as well. If Rosanna has died for love of him, it is not 
with his knowledge or by his fault. Let him leave the house 
to-day, if he does leave it, without the useless pain of know- 
ing the truth." Sergeant Cuff said, "Quite right," and fell 
silent again ; comparing Penelope's notion, as it seemed to 
me, with some other notion of his own which he kept to him- 
self. 

At the end of the half hour my mistress's bell rang. 

On my way to answer it, I met Mr. Franklin coming out 
of his aunt's sitting-room. He mentioned that her ladyship 
was ready to see Sergeant Cuff — in my presence as before — 
and he added that he himself wanted to say two words to 
the Sergeant first. On our way back to my room he stopped 
and looked at the railway time-table in the hall. 

"Are you really going to leave us, sir?" I asked. "Miss 
Rachel will surely come right again, if you only give her 
time." 

"She will come right again," answered Mr. Franklin, 
"when she hears that I have gone away, and that she will 
see me no more." 

I thought he spoke in resentment of my young lady's treat- 
ment of him. But it was not so. My mistress had noticed, 
from the time when the police first came into the house, that 
the bare mention of him was enough to set Miss Rachel's 
temper in a flame. He had been too fond of his cousin to 
like to confess this to himself, until the truth had been forced 
on him when she drove off to her aunt's. His eyes once 

179 



THE MOONSTONE 

opened in that cruel way which you know of, Mr. Franklin 
had taken his resolution — the one resolution which a man of 
any spirit could take — to leave the house. 

What he had to say to the Sergeant was spoken in my 
presence. He described her ladyship as willing to acknow- 
ledge that she had spoken overhastily. And he asked if Ser- 
geant Cuff would consent — in that case — to accept his fee, 
and to leave the matter of the Diamond where the matter 
stood now. The Sergeant answered, "No, sir. My fee is 
paid me for doing my duty. I decline to take it until my duty 
is done." 

"I don't understand you," says Mr. Franklin. 

"I'll explain myself, sir," says the Sergeant. "When I 
came here I undertook to throw the necessary light on the 
matter of the missing Diamond. I am now ready, and wait- 
ing, to redeem my pledge. When I have stated the case to 
Lady Verinder as the case now stands, and when I have told 
her plainly what course of action to take for the recovery of 
the Moonstone, the responsibility will be off my shoulders. 
Let her ladyship decide, after that, whether she does, or does 
not, allow me to go on. I shall then have done what I under- 
took to do — and Fll take my fee." 

In those words Sergeant Cuff reminded us that, even in 
the Detective Police, a man may have a reputation to lose. 

The view he took was so plainly the right one that there 
was no more to be said. As I rose to conduct him to my 
lady's room, he asked if Mr. Franklin wished to be present. 
Mr. Franklin answered, "Not unless Lady Verinder desires 
it." He added, in a whisper to me, as I was following the 
Sergeant out, "I know what that man is going to say about 
Rachel ; and I am too fond of her to hear it and keep my 
temper. Leave me by myself." 

I left him, miserable enough, leaning on the sill of my win- 
dow, with his face hidden in his hands — and Penelope peeping 
through the door, longing to comfort him. In ]\Ir. Frank- 
lin's place, I should have called her in. When you are ill- 
used by one woman there is great comfort in telling it to 
another — because, nine times out of ten, the other always 
takes your side. Perhaps, when my back was turned, he did 
call her in? In that case it is only doing my daughter jus- 

z8o 



THE MOONSTONE 

tice to declare that she would stick at nothing in the way 
of comforting Mr, Franklin Blake. 

In the mean time Sergeant Cuff and I proceeded to my 
lady's room. 

At the last conference we had held with her we had found 
her not overwilling to lift her eyes from the book which she 
had on the table. On this occasion there was a change for 
the better. She met the Sergeant's eye with an eye that was 
as steady as his own. The family spirit showed itself in 
every line of her face ; and I knew that Sergeant Cuff would 
meet his match when a woman like my mistress was strung 
up to hear the worst he could say to her. 

The first words, when we had taken our seats, were spoken 
by my lady. 

"Sergeant Cuff," she said, "there was perhaps some excuse 
for the inconsiderate manner in which I spoke to you half an 
hour since. I have no wish, however, to claim that excuse. 
I say, with perfect sincerity, that I regret it, if I wronged 
you." 

The grace of voice and manner with which she made him 
that atonement had its due effect on the Sergeant. He re- 
quested permission to justify himself — putting his justifica- 
tion as an act of respect to my mistress. It was impossible, 
he said, that he could be in any way responsible for the calam- 
ity which had shocked us all, for this sufficient reason, that 
his success in bringing his inquiry to its proper end depended 
on his neither saying nor doing any thing that could alarm 
Rosanna Spearman. He appealed to me to testify whether 
he had, or had not, carried that object out. I could, and did, 
bear witness that he had. And there, as I thought, the mat- 
ter might have been judiciously left to come to an end. 

Sergeant Cuff, however, took it a step farther, evidently, 
as you shall now judge, with the purpose of forcing the most 
painful of all possible explanations to take place between her 
ladyship and himself. 

"I have heard a motive assigned for the young woman's 
suicide," said the Sergeant, "which may possibly be the right 
one. It is a motive quite unconnected with the case which 
I am conducting here. I am bound to add, however, that my 
own opinion points the other way. Some unbearable anxiety, 

i8i 



THE MOONSTONE 

in connection with the missing Diamond, has, as I believe, 
driven the poor creature to her own destruction. I don't pre- 
tend to know what that unbearable anxiety may have been. 
But I think, with your ladyship's permission, I can lay my 
hand on a person who is capable of deciding whether I am 
right or wrong." 

'Ts the person now in the house?" my mistress asked, after 
waiting a little. 

"The person has left the house, my lady." 

That answer pointed as straight to Miss Rachel as straight 
could be. A silence dropped on us which I thought would 
never come to an end. Lord ! how the wind howled, and how 
the rain drove at the window, as I sat there waiting for one 
or more of them to speak again ! 

"Be so good as to express yourself plainly," said my lady. 
"Do you refer to my daughter?" 

"I do," said Sergeant Cuff, in so many words. 

My mistress had her check-book on the table when we 
entered the room — no doubt to pay the Sergeant his fee. She 
now put it back in the drawer. It went to my heart to see 
how her poor hand trembled — the hand that had loaded her 
old servant with benefits ; the hand that, I pray God, may 
take mine, when my time comes, and I leave my place for- 
ever ! 

'T had hoped," said my lady, very slowly and quietly, "to 
have recompensed your services, and to have parted with you 
without Miss Verinder's name having been openly mentioned 
between us as it has been mentioned now. My nephew has 
probably said something of this before you came into my 
room ?" 

"Mr. Blake gave his message, my lady. And I gave Mr. 
Blake a reason — " 

"It is needless to tell me your reason. After what you 
have just said, you know as well as I do that you have gone 
too far to go back. I owe it to myself, and I owe it to my 
child, to insist on your remaining here, and to insist on your 
speaking out." 

The Sergeant looked at his watch. 

"If there had been time, my lady," he answered, "I should 
have preferred writing my report, instead of communicating 

182 



THE MOONSTONE 

it by word of mouth. But, if this inquiry is to go on, time 
is of too much importance to be wasted in writing. I am 
ready to go into the matter at once. It is a very painful 
matter for me to speak of, and for you to hear — " 

There my mistress stopped him once more. 

"I may possibly make it less painful to you, and to my 
good servant and friend here," she said, "if I set the example 
of speaking boldly on my side. You suspect Miss Verinder 
of deceiving us all by secreting the Diamond for some pur- 
pose of her own ? Is that true ?" 

"Quite true, my lady." 

"Very well. Now, before you begin, I have to tell you, 
as Miss Verinder's mother, that she is absolutely incapable 
of doing what you suppose her to have done. Your knowledge 
of her character dates from a day or two since. My know- 
ledge of her character dates from the beginning of her life. 
State your suspicion of her as strongly as you please — it is 
impossible that you can offend me by doing so. I am sure, 
beforehand, that, with all your experience, the circumstances 
have fatally misled you in this case. Mind ! I am in posses- 
sion of no private information. I am as absolutely shut out 
of my daughter's confidence as you are. My one reason for 
speaking positively is the reason you have heard already. I 
know my child." 

She turned to me, and gave me her hand. I kissed it in 
silence. "You may go on," she said, facing the Sergeant 
again as steadily as ever. 

Sergeant Cufif bowed. My mistress had produced but one 
effect on him. His hatchet-face softened for a moment, as if 
he was sorry for her. As to shaking him in his own con- 
viction, it was plain to see that she had not moved him by a 
single inch. He settled himself in his chair, and he began 
his vile attack on Miss Rachel's character in these words : 

"I must ask your ladyship," he said, "to look this matter 
in the face, from my point' of view as well as from yours. 
Will you please to suppose yourself coming down here, in 
my place, and with my experience? and will you allow me 
to mention very briefly what that experience has been?" 

My mistress signed to him that she would do this. The 
Sergeant went on : 

183 



THE MOONSTONE 

"For the last twenty years," he said, "I have been largely 
employed in cases of family scandal, acting in the capacity 
of confidential man. The one result of my domestic practice 
which has any bearing on the matter now in hand is a result 
which I may state in two words. It is well within my ex- 
perience that young ladies of rank and position do occasion- 
ally have private debts which they dare not acknowledge to 
their nearest relatives and friends. Sometimes the milliner 
and jeweler are at the bottom of it. Sometimes the money 
is wanted for purposes which I don't suspect in this case, 
and which I won't shock you by mentioning. Bear in mind 
what I have said, my lady — and now let us see how events 
in this house have forced me back on my own experience, 
whether I liked it or not !" 

He considered with himself for a moment, and went on — 
with a horrid clearness that forced you to understand him ; 
with an abominable justice that favored nobody. 

"My first information relating to the loss of the Moon- 
stone," said the Sergeant, "came to me from Superintendent 
Seegrave. He proved to my complete satisfaction that he 
was perfectly incapable of managing the case. The one thing 
he said which struck me as worth listening to was this — that 
Miss Verinder had declined to be questioned by him, and had 
spoken to him with a perfectly incomprehensible rudeness and 
contempt. I thought this curious — but I attributed it mainly 
to some clumsiness on the Superintendent's part which might 
have ofifended the young lady. After that I put it by in my 
mind, and applied myself, single-handed, to the case. It 
ended, as you are aware, in the discovery of the smear on the 
door, and in Mr. Franklin Blake's evidence satisfying me that 
this same smear, and the loss of the Diamond, were pieces of 
the same puzzle. So far, if I suspected any thing, I sus- 
pected that the Moonstone had been stolen, and that one of 
the servants might prove to be the thief. Very good. In 
this state of things, what happens? Miss Verinder suddenly 
comes out of her room, and speaks to me. I observe three 
suspicious appearances in that young lady. She is still vio- 
lently agitated, though more than four-and-twenty hours 
have passed since the Diamond was lost. She treats me as 
she has already treated Superintendent Seegrave. And she 

184 



THE MOONSTONE 

is mortally ofifended with Mr. Franklin Blake. Very good 
again. Here, I say to myself, is a young lady who has lost 
a valuable jewel — a young lady, also, as my own eyes and 
ears inform me, who is of an impetuous temperament. Under 
these circumstances, and with that character, what does she 
do? She betrays an incomprehensible resentment against 
Mr. Blake, Mr. Superintendent, and myself — otherwise, the 
very three people who have all, in their different ways, been 
trying to help her to recover her lost jewel. Having brought 
my inquiry to that point — then, my lady, and not till then, 
I begin to look back into my own mind for my own experi- 
ence. My own experience explains Miss Verinder's other- 
wise incomprehensible conduct. It associates her with those 
other young ladies that I know of. It tells me she has debts 
she daren't acknowledge, that must be paid. And it sets me 
asking myself, whether the loss of the Diamond may not 
mean — that the Diamond must be secretly pledged to pay 
them. That is the conclusion which my experience draws 
from plain facts. What does your ladyship's experience say 
against it?" 

"What I have said already," answered my mistress. "The 
circumstances have misled you." 

I said nothing on my side. Robinson Crusoe — God knows 
how — had got into my muddled old head. If Sergeant Cuff 
had found himself, at that moment, transported to a desert 
island, without a man Friday to keep him company, or a ship 
to take him off, he would have found himself exactly where 
I wished him to be! (Nota bene: I am an average good 
Christian, when you don't push my Christianity too far. And 
all the rest of you — which is a great comfort — are, in this 
respect, much the same as I am.) 

Sergeant Cuff went on : 

"Right or wrong, my lady," he said, "having drawn my 
conclusion, the next thing to do was to put it to the test. I 
suggested to your ladyship the examination of all the ward- 
robes in the house. It was a means of finding the article of 
dress which had, in all probability, made the smear; and it 
was a means of putting my conclusion to the test. How did 
it turn out? Your ladyship consented; Mr. Blake consented; 
Mr. Ablewhite consented. Miss Verinder alone stopped the 



THE MOONSTONE 

whole proceeding by refusing point-blank. That result satis- 
fied me that my view was the right one. If your ladyship 
and Mr. Betteredge persist in not agreeing with me, you 
must be blind to what happened before you this very day. In 
your hearing, I told the young lady that her leaving the 
liouse, as things were then, would put an obstacle in the way 
of my recovering her jewel. You saw yourselves that she 
drove off in the face of that statement. You saw yourselves 
that, so far from forgiving Mr. Blake for having adone more 
than all the rest of you to put the clue into my hands, she 
publicly insulted Mr. Blake, on the steps of her mother's 
house. What do these things mean? If Miss Verinder is 
not privy to the suppression of the Diamond, what do these 
things mean?" 

This time he looked my way. It was downright frightful 
to hear him piling up proof after proof against Miss Rachel, 
and to know, while one was longing to defend her, that there 
was no disputing the truth of what he said. I am — thank 
God ! — constitutionally superior to reason. This enabled me 
to hold firm to my lady's view, which was my view also. This 
roused my spirit, and made me put a bold face on it before 
Sergeant CufT. Profit, good friends, I beseech you, by my 
example. It will save you from many troubles of the vexing 
sort. Cultivate a superiority to reason, and see how you pare 
the claws of all the sensible people when they try to scratch 
you for your own good ! 

Finding that I made no remark, and that my mistress made 
no remark, Sergeant Cuff proceeded. Lord ! how it did en- 
rage me to notice that he was not in the least put out by our 
silence ! 

"There is the case, my lady, as it stands against Miss 
Verinder alone," he said. 'The next thing is to put the case 
as it stands against Miss Verinder and the deceased Rosanna 
Spearman, taken together. We will go back for a moment, 
if you please, to your daughter's refusal to let her wardrobe 
be examined. My mind being made up after that circum- 
stance, I had two questions to consider next. First, as to the 
right method of conducting my inquiry. Second, as to 
whether Miss Verinder had an accomplice among the female 
servants in the house. After carefully thinking it over, I de- 

i86 



THE MOONSTONE 

termined to conduct the inquiry in, what we should call at 
our office, a highly irregular manner; for this reason: I had 
a family scandal to deal with, which it was my business to 
keep within the family limits. The less noise made, and the 
fewer strangers employed to help me, the better. As to the 
usual course of taking people in custody on suspicion, going 
before the magistrate, and all the rest of it — nothing of the 
sort was to be thought of, when your ladyship's daughter was, 
as I believe, at the bottom of the whole business. In this 
case, I felt that a person of Mr. Betteredge's character and 
position in the house — knowing the servants as he did, and 
having the honor of the family at heart — would be safer to 
take as an assistant than any other person whom I could lay 
my hand on. I should have tried Mr. Blake as well — but 
for one obstacle in the way. He saw the drift of my pro- 
ceedings at a very early date; and, with his interest in Miss 
Verinder, any mutual understanding was impossible between 
him and me. I trouble your ladyship with these particulars 
to show you that I have kept the family secret within the 
farnily circle. I am the only outsider who knows it — and my 
professional existence depends on holding my tongue." 

Here I felt that my professional existence depended on not 
holding wzy tongue. To be held up before my mistress, in 
my old age, as a sort of deputy-policeman was, once again, 
more than my Christianity was strong enough to bear. 

"I beg to inform your ladyship," I said, "that I never, to 
my knowledge, helped this abominable detective business, in 
any way, from first to last ; and I summon Sergeant CufT to 
contradict me, if he dares !" 

Having given vent in those words, I felt greatly relieved. 
Her ladyship honored me by a little friendly pat on the shoul- 
der. I looked with righteous indignation at the Sergeant 
to see what he thought of such a testimony as that! The 
Sergeant looked back like a Iamb, and seemed to like me bet- 
ter than ever. 

My lady informed him that he might continue his state- 
ment. "I understand," she said, "that you have honestly done 
your best, in what you believed to be my interest. I am ready 
to hear what you have to say next." 

"What I have to say next," answered Sergeant Cuflf, "re- 

187 



THE MOONSTONE 

lates to Rosanna Spearman. I recognized the young woman, 
as your ladyship may remember, when she brought the wash- 
ing-book into this room. Up to that time I was inchned to 
doubt whether Miss Vcrinder had trusted her secret to any 
one. When I saw Rosanna I altered my mind. I suspected 
her at once of being privy to the suppression of the Diamond. 
The poor creature has met her death by a dreadful end, and 
I don't want your ladyship to think, now she's gone, that I 
was unduly hard on her. If this had been a common case of 
thieving, I should have given Rosanna the benefit of the doubt 
just as freely as I should have given it to any of the other 
servants in the house. Our experience of the reformatory 
women is, that when tried in service — and when kindly and 
judiciously treated — they prove themselves in the majority of 
cases to be honestly penitent, and honestly worthy of the pains 
taken with them. But this was not a common case of thiev- 
ing. It was a case — in my mind — of a deeply planned fraud, 
with the owner of the Diamond at the bottom of it. Holding 
this view, the first consideration which naturally presented 
itself to me, in connection with Rosanna, was this. Would 
Miss Verinder be satisfied, begging your ladyship's pardon, 
with leading us all to think that the Moonstone was merely 
lost? Or would she go a step farther, and delude us into be- 
lieving that the Moonstone was stolen? In the latter event, 
there was Rosanna Spearman — with the character of a thief 
— ready to her hand ; the person of all others to lead your 
ladyship off, and to lead me ofif, on a false scent." 

Was it possible, 1 asked myself, that he could put his case 
against Miss Rachel and Rosanna in a more horrid point of 
view than this? It zvas possible, as you shall now see. 

"I had another reason for suspecting the deceased woman," 
he said, "which appears to me to have been stronger still. 
Who would be the very person to help Miss Verinder in 
raising money privately on the Diamond? Rosanna Spear- 
man. No young lady in Miss Verinder's position could man- 
age such a risky matter as that by herself. A go-between 
she must have, and who so fit, I ask again, as Rosanna Spear- 
man? Your ladyship's deceased house-maid was at the top 
of her profession when she was a thief. She had relations, 
to my certain knowledge, with one of the few men in London, 



THE MOONSTONE 

in the money-lending line, who would advance a large sum 
on such a notable jewel as the Moonstone, without asking 
awkward questions, or insisting on awkward conditions. 
Bear this in mind, my lady ; and now let me show you how 
my suspicions have been justified by Rosanna's own acts, and 
by the plain inferences to be drawn from them." 

He thereupon passed the whole of Rosanna's proceedings 
under review. You are already as well acquainted with 
those proceedings as I am ; and you will understand how un- 
answerably this part of his report fixed the guilt of being con- 
cerned in the disappearance of the Moonstone on the memory 
of the poor dead girl. Even my mistress was daunted by 
what he said now. She made him no answer when he had 
done. It didn't seem to matter to the Sergeant whether he 
was answered or not. On he went — devil take him! — just 
as steady as ever. 

"Having stated the whole case as I understand it," he said, 
"1 have only to tell your ladyship, now, what I propose to do 
next. I see two ways of bringing this inquiry successfully to 
an end. One of those ways I look upon as a certainty. The 
other, I admit, is a bold experiment, and nothing more. Your 
ladyship shall decide. Shall we take the certainty first?" 

My mistress made him a sign to take his own way, and 
choose for himself. 

"Thank you," said the Sergeant. "We'll begin with the 
certainty, as your ladyship is so good as to leave it to me. 
Whether Miss Verinder remains at Frizinghall, or whether 
she returns here, I propose, in either case, to keep a careful 
watch on all her proceedings — on the people she sees, on the 
rides or walks she may take, and on the letters she may write 
or receive." 

"What next?" asked my mistress. 

"I shall next," answered the Sergeant, "request your ladv- 
ship's leave to introduce into the house, as a servant in the 
place of Rosanna Spearman, a woman accustomed to private 
inquiries of this sort, for whose discretion I can answer." 

"What next?" repeated my mistress. 

"Next," proceeded the Sergeant, "and last, I propose to 
send one of my brother-officers to make an arrangement with 
that money-lender in London, whom I mentioned just now 

189 



THE MOONSTONE 

as formerly acquainted with Rosanna Spearman — and whose 
name and address, your ladyship may rely on it, have been 
communicated by Rosanna to Miss Verindcr. 1 don't deny 
that the course of action I am now suggesting will cost money 
and consume time. But the result is certain. We run a line 
round the Moonstone, and we draw that line closer and closer 
till we find it in Miss Verinder's possession, supposing she 
decides to keep it. If her debts press, and she decides on 
sending it away, then we have our man ready, and we meet 
the Moonstone on its arrival in London." 

To hear her own daughter made the subject of such a pro- 
posal as this stung my mistress into speaking angrily for the 
first time. 

"Consider your proposal declined, in every particular," she 
said. "And go on to your other way of bringing the inquiry 
to an end." 

"My other way," said the Sergeant, going on as easy as 
ever, "is to try that bold experiment to which I have alluded. 
I think I have formed a pretty correct estimate of Miss Verin- 
der's temperament. She is quite capable, according to my be- 
lief, of committing a daring fraud. But she is too hot and 
impetuous in temper, and too little accustomed to deceit as 
a habit, to act the hypocrite in small things, and to restrain 
herself under all provocations. Her feelings, in this case, 
have repeatedly got beyond her control, at the very time 
when it was plainly her interest to conceal them. It is on 
this peculiarity in her character that I now propose to act. 
I want to give her a great shock suddenly, under circum- 
stances which will touch her to the quick. In plain English, 
I want to tell Miss Verinder, without a word of warning, of 
Rosanna's death, on the chance that her own better feelings 
will hurry her into making a clean breast of it. Does your 
ladyship accept that alternative?" 

My mistress astonished me beyond all power of expression. 
She answered him on the instant : 

"Yes ; I do." 

"The pony-chaise is ready." said the Sergeant. "I wish 
your ladyship good-morning." 

My lady held up her hand, and stopped him at the door. 

"My daughter's better feelings shall be appealed to, as you 

igo 



THE MOONSTONE 

propose,"' she said. "But I claim the right, as her mother, 
of putting her to the test myself. You will remain here, if 
you please ; and I will go to Frizinghall." 

For once in his life the great Cuff stood speechless with 
amazement, like an ordinary man. 

My mistress rang the bell and ordered her water-proof 
things. It was still pouring with rain ; and the close carriage 
had gone, as you know, with Miss Rachel to Frizinghall. I 
tried to dissuade her ladyship from facing the severity of the 
weather. Quite useless ! I asked leave to go with her and 
hold the umbrella. She wouldn't hear of it. The pony-chaise 
came round, with the groom in charge. "You may rely on 
two things," she said to Sergeant Cuff, in the hall : "I will 
try the experiment on Miss Verinder as boldly as you could 
try it yourself. And I will inform you of the result, either 
personally or by letter, before the last train leaves for London 
to-night." 

With that she stepped into the chaise, and, taking the reins 
herself, drove off to Frizinghall. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

MY mistress having left us, I had leisure to think of Ser- 
geant Cuff. I found him sitting in a snug corner of 
the hall consulting his memorandum-book, and curling up 
viciously at the corners of the lips. 

"Making notes of the case?" I asked. 

"No," said the Sergeant. "Looking to see what my next 
professional engagement is." 

"Oh!" I said. "You think it's all over, then, here?" 

"I think," answered Sergeant Cuff, "that Lady Verinder 
is one of the cleverest women in England. I also think a rose 
much better worth looking at than a diamond. Where is the 
gardener, Mr. Betteredge?" 

There was no getting a word more out of him on the mat- 
ter of the Moonstone. He had lost all interest in his own 
inquiry; and he would persist in looking for the gardener, 

191 



THE MOONSTONE 

An hour afterward I heard them at high words in the con- 
servatory, with the dog-rose once more at the bottom of the 
dispute. 

In the mean time it was my business to find out whether 
Mr. FrankHn persisted in his resolution to leave us by the 
afternoon train. After having been informed of the confer- 
ence in my lady's room, and of how it had ended, he imme- 
diately decided on waiting to hear the news from Frizing- 
hall. This very natural alteration in his plans — which, with 
ordinary people, would have led to nothing in particular — 
proved, in Mr. Franklin's case, to have one objectionable 
result. It left him unsettled, with a legacy of idle time on his 
hands, and in so doing it let out all the foreign sides of 
his character, one on the top of another, like rats out of 
a bag. 

Now as an Italian-Englishman, now as a German-English- 
man, and now as a French-Englishman, he drifted in and out 
of all the sitting-rooms in the house, with nothing to talk of 
but Miss Rachel's treatment of him ; and with nobody to ad- 
dress himself to but me. I found him, for example, in the 
library, sitting under the map of Modern Italy, and quite un- 
aware of any other method of meeting his troubles except the 
method of talking about them. "I have several worthy as- 
pirations, Betteredge ; but what am I to do with them now ? 
I am full of dormant good qualities, if Rachel would only 
have helped me to bring them out !" He was so eloquent in 
drawing the picture of his own neglected merits, and so 
pathetic in lamenting over it when it was done, that I felt 
quite at my wit's end how to console him, when it suddenly 
occurred to me that here was a case for the wholesome appli- 
cation of a bit of Robinson Crusoe. I hobbled out to my own 
room, and hobbled back with that immortal book. Nobody 
in the library ! The map of Modern Italy stared at me; and 
/ stared at the map of Modern Italy. 

I tried the drawing-room. There was his handkerchief on 
the floor, to prove that he had drifted in. And there was 
the empty room, to prove that he had drifted out again. 

I tried the dining-room, and discovered Samuel with a 
biscuit and a glass of sherry, silently investigating the empty 

192 



THE MOONSTONE 

air. A minute since Mr. Franklin had rung furiously for 
a little light refreshment. On its production, in a violent 
hurry, by Samuel, Mr. Franklin had vanished before the bell 
down stairs had quite done ringing with the pull he had 
given to it. 

I tried the morning-room, and found him at last. There 
he was at the window, drawing hieroglyphics, with his finger 
in the damp on the glass. 

"Your sherry is waiting for you, sir," I said to him. I 
might as well have addressed myself to one of the four walls 
of the room ; he was down in the bottomless deep of his own 
meditations, past all pulling up. "How do yoic explain 
Rachel's conduct, Betteredge?" was the only answer I re- 
ceived. Not being ready with the needful reply, I produced 
Robinson Crusoe, in which I am firmly persuaded some ex- 
planation might have been found, if we had only searched 
long enough for it. Mr. Franklin shut up Robinson Crusoe 
and floundered into his German-English gibberish on the 
spot. "Why not look into it ?" he said, as if I had personally 
objected to looking into it. "Why the devil lose your pa- 
tience, Betteredge, when patience is all that's wanted to arrive 
at the truth? Don't interrupt me. Rachel's conduct is per- 
fectly intelligible, if you will only do her the common justice 
to take the objective view first, and the subjective view next, 
and the objective-subjective view to wind up with. What 
do we know? We know that the loss of the Moonstone, on 
Thursday morning last, threw her into a state of nervous ex- 
citement from which she has not recovered yet. Do you 
mean to deny the objective view, so far? Very well, then — 
don't interrupt me. Now, being in a state of nervous excite- 
ment, how are we to expect that she should behave as she 
might otherwise have behaved to any of the people about her ? 
Arguing in this way, from within-outward, what do we 
reach ? We reach the subjective view. I defy you to con- 
trovert the subjective view. Very well, then — what follows? 
Good Heavens ! the objective-subjective explanation follows, 
of course ! Rachel, properly speaking, is not Rachel, but 
Somebody Else. Do I mind being cruelly treated by Some- 
body Else? You are unreasonable enough, Betteredge; but 
you can hardly accuse me of that. Then how does it end? 

13 193 



THE MOONSTONE 

It ends, in spite of your confounded English narrowness and 
prejudice, in my being perfectly happy and comfortable. 
Where's the sherry?" 

My head was by this time in such a condition that I was 
not quite sure whether it was my own head or Mr. Frank- 
lin's. In this deplorable state I contrived to do, what I take 
to have been, three objective things. I got Mr. Franklin his 
sherry ; I retired to my own room ; and I solaced myself with 
the most composing pipe of tobacco I ever remember to have 
smoked in my life. 

Don't suppose, however, that I was quit of Mr. Franklin 
on such easy terms as these. Drifting again out of the 
morning-room into the hall, he found his way to the ofifices 
next, smelled my pipe, and was instantly reminded that he 
had been simple enough to give up smoking for Miss Rachel's 
sake. In the twinkling of an eye he burst in on me with his 
cigar-case, and came out strong on the one everlasting sub- 
ject in his neat, witty, unbelieving, French way. "Give me 
a light, Betteredge. Is it conceivable that a man can have 
smoked as long as I have, without discovering that there is 
a complete system for the treatment of women at the bottom 
of his cigar-case? Follow me carefully, and I'll prove it in 
two words. You choose a cigar, you try it, and it disappoints 
you. What do you do upon that? You throw it away and 
try another. Now observe the application ! You choose a 
woman, you try her, and she breaks your heart. Fool ! take 
a lesson from your cigar-case. Throw her away and try an- 
other !" 

I shook my head at that. Wonderfully clever, I dare say, 
but my own experience was dead against it. "In the time 
of the late Mrs. Betteredge," I said, "I felt pretty often in- 
clined to try your philosophy, Mr. Franklin. But the law 
insists on your smoking your cigar, sir, when you have once 
chosen it." I pointed that observation with a wink. Mr. 
Franklin burst out laughing — and we were as merry as 
crickets, until the next new side of his character turned up 
in due course. So things went on with my young master and 
me ; and so, while the Sergeant and the gardener were wrang- 
ling over the roses, we two spent the interval before the news 
came back from Frizinghall. 

194 



THE MOONSTONE 

The pony-chaise returned a good half hour before I had 
ventured to expect it. My lady had decided to remain, for 
the present, at her sister's house. The groom brought two 
letters from his mistress ; one addressed to Mr. Franklin, and 
the other to me. 

Mr. Franklin's letter I sent to him in the library — into 
which refuge his driftings had now taken him for the second 
time. My own letter I read in my own room. A check, 
which dropped out when I opened it, informed me (before I 
had mastered the contents) that Sergeant Cuff's dismissal 
from the inquiry after the Moonstone was now a settled thing. 

I sent to the conservatory to say that I wished to speak 
to the Sergeant directly. He appeared, with his mind full 
of the gardener and the dog-rose, declaring that the equal of 
Mr. Begbie for obstinacy never had existed yet, and never 
would exist again. I requested him to dismiss such wretched 
trifling as this from our conversation, and to give his best 
attention to a really serious matter. Upon that he exerted 
himself sufficiently to notice the letter in my hand. "Ah !" 
he said in a weary way, "you have heard from her ladyship. 
Have I any thing to do with it, Mr. Betteredge?" 

"You shall judge for yourself, Sergeant." I thereupon 
read him the letter (with my best emphasis and discretion), 
in the following words : 

"My Good Gabriel, — I request you will inform Sergeant 
Cuff that I have performed the promise I made to him ; with 
this result, so far as Rosanna Spearman is concerned. Miss 
Verinder solemnly declares that she has never spoken a word 
in private to Rosanna, since that unhappy woman first entered 
my house. They never met, even accidentally, on the night 
when the Diamond was lost ; and no communication of any 
sort whatever took place between them, from the Thursday 
morning when the alarm was first raised in the house, to 
this present Saturday afternoon, when Miss Verinder left us. 
After telling my daughter, suddenly and in so many words, 
of Rosanna Spearman's suicide — this is what came of it." 

Having reached that point, I looked up and asked Sergeant 
Cuff what he thought of the letter, so far? 

195 



THE MOONSTONE 

"I should only offend you if I expressed my opinion," an- 
y swered the Sergeant. "Go on, Mr, Betteredge," he said, 
with the most exasperating resignation ; "go on." 

When I remembered that this man had had the audacity 
to complain of our gardener's obstinacy, my tongue itched to 
"go on" in other words than my mistress's. This time, how- 
ever, my Christianity held firm. I proceeded steadily with 
her ladyship's letter : 

"Having appealed to Miss Verinder in the manner which 
the officer thought most desirable, I spoke to her next in the 
manner which I myself thought most likely to impress her. 
On two different occasions, before my daughter left my roof, 
I privately warned her that she was exposing herself to sus- 
picion of the most unendurable and most degrading kind. I 
have now told her, in the plainest terms, that my apprehen- 
sions have been realized. 

"Her answer to this, on her own solemn affirmation, is as 
plain as words can be. In the first place, she owes no 
money privately to any living creature. In the second 
place, the Diamond is not now, and never has been, in her 
possession, since she put it into her cabinet on Wednesday 
night. 

"The confidence which my daughter has placed in me goes 
no further than this. She maintains an obstinate silence when 
I ask her if she can explain the disappearance of the Dia- 
mond. She refuses, with tears, when I appeal to her to speak 
out for my sake. 'The day will come when you will know 
why I am careless about being suspected, and why I am silent 
even to you. I have done much to make my mother pity me 
— nothing to make my mother blush for me.' Those are my 
daughter's own words. 

"After what has passed between the officer and me, I think 
— stranger as he is — that he should be made acquainted with 
what Miss Verinder has said as well as you. Read my letter 
to him, and then place in his hands the check which I inclose. 
In resigning all further claim on his services, I have only to 
say that I am convinced of his honesty and his intelligence ; 
but I- am more firmly persuaded than ever that the circum- 
stances, in this case, have fatally misled him." 

196 



THE MOONSTONE 

There the letter ended. Before presenting the check, I 
asked Sergeant Cuff if he had any remark to make. 

"It's no part of my duty, Mr. Betteredge," he answered, 
"to make remarks on a case when I have done with it." 

I tossed the check across the table to him. "Do you believe 
in that part of her ladyship's letter ?" I said, indignantly. 

The Sergeant looked at the check, and lifted his dismal 
eyebrows in acknowledgment of her ladyship's liberality. 

"This is such a generous estimate of the value of my 
time," he said, "that I feel bound to make some return for it. 
I'll bear in mind the amount in this check, Mr. Betteredge, 
when the time comes round for remembering it." 

"What do you mean?" I asked. 

"Her ladyship has smoothed matters over for the present 
very cleverly," said the Sergeant. "But this family scandal 
is of the sort that bursts up again when you least expect it. 
We shall have more detective business on our hands, sir, be- 
fore the Moonstone is many months older." 

If those words meant any thing, and if the manner in 
which he spoke them meant any thing — it came to this : My 
mistress's letter had proved, to his mind, that Miss Rachel 
was hardened enough to resist the strongest appeal that could 
be addressed to her, and that she had deceived her own 
mother — good God, under what circumstances ! — by a series 
of abominable lies. How other people, in my place, might 
have replied to the Sergeant I don't know. I answered what 
he had said in these plain terms : 

"Sergeant Cuff, I consider your last observation as an in- 
sult to my lady and her daughter !" 

"Mr. Betteredge, consider it as a warning to yourself, and 
you will be nearer the mark." 

Hot and angry as I was, the infernal confidence with which 
he gave me that answer closed my lips. 

I walked to the window to compose myself. The rain had 
given over ; and, who should I see in the court-yard but Mr. 
Begbie, the gardener, waiting outside to continue the dog- 
rose controversy with Sergeant Cuff. 

"My compliments to the Sergeant," said Mr, Begbie, the 
moment he set eyes on me. "If he's minded to walk to the 
station, I'm agreeable to go with him." 

197 



THE MOONSTONE 

"What !" cries the Sergeant, behind me, "are you not con- 
vinced yet?" 

"The deil a bit I'm convinced !" answered Mr. Begbie. 

"Then I'll walk to the station !" says the Sergeant. 

"Then I'll meet you at the gate!" says Mr. Begbie. 

I was angry enough, as you know — but how was any man's 
anger to hold out against such an interruption as this ? Ser- 
geant Cuff noticed the change in me, and encouraged it by 
a word in season. "Come ! come !" he said, "why not treat 
my view of the case as her ladyship treats it ? Why not say, 
the circumstances have fatally misled me?" 

To take any thing as her ladyship took it was a privilege 
worth enjoying — even with the disadvantage of its having 
been offered to me by Sergeant Cuff. I cooled slowly down 
to my customary level. I regarded any other opinion of 
Miss Rachel than my lady's opinion or mine with a lofty con- 
tempt. The only thing I could not do was to keep off the 
subject of the Moonstone ! My own. good sense ought to have 
warned me, I know, to let the matter rest — but, there ! the 
virtues which distinguish the present generation were not in- 
vented in my time. Sergeant Cuff had hit me on the raw, 
and, though I did look down upon him with contempt, the 
tender place still tingled for all that. The end of it was that 
I perversely led him back to the subject of her ladyship's 
letter. "I am quite satisfied myself," I said. "But never 
mind that ! Go on as if I was still open to conviction. You 
think Miss Rachel is not to be believed on her word ; and 
you say we shall hear of the Moonstone again. Back your 
opinion, Sergeant," I concluded, in an airy way. "Back your 
opinion." 

Instead of taking offense, Sergeant Cuff seized my hand 
and shook it till my fingers ached again. 

"I declare to Heaven," says this strange officer, solemnly, 
"I would take to domestic service to-morrow, Mr. Better- 
edge, if I had a chance of being employed along with you ! 
To say you are as transparent as a child, sir, is to pay the 
children a compliment which nine out of ten of them don't 
deserve. There ! there ! we won^t begin to dispute again. 
You shall have it out of me on easier terms than that. I 
won't say a word more about her ladyship or about Miss 



THE MOONSTONE 

Verinder — I'll only turn prophet, for once in a way, and for 
your sake. I have warned you already that you haven't done 
with the Moonstone yet. Very well. Now I'll tell you, at 
parting, of three things which will happen in the future, and 
which, I believe, will force themselves on your attention, 
whether you like it or not." 

"Go on!" I said, quite unabashed, and just as airy as ever. 

"First," said the Sergeant, "you will hear something from 
the Yollands — when the postman delivers Rosanna's letter at 
Cobb's Hole on Monday next." 

If he had thrown a bucket of cold water over me, I doubt 
if I could have felt it much more unpleasantly than I felt 
those words. Miss Rachel's assertion of her innocence had 
left Rosanna's conduct — the making the new night-gown, the 
hiding the smeared night-gown, and all the rest of it — entirely 
without explanation. And this had never occurred to me till 
Sergeant Cuff forced it on my mind all in a moment ! 

"In the second place," proceeded the Sergeant, "you will 
hear of the three Indians again. You will hear of them in 
the neighborhood, if Miss Rachel remains in the neighbor- 
hood. You will hear of them in London, if Miss Rachel goes 
to London." 

Having lost all interest in the three jugglers, and having 
thoroughly convinced myself of my young lady's innocence, 
I took this second prophecy easily enough. "So much for two 
of the three things that are going to happen," I said. "Now 
for the third !" 

"Third, and last," said Sergeant Cuff, "you will, sooner or 
later, hear something of that money-lender in London, whom 
I have twice taken the liberty of mentioning already. Give 
me your pocket-book, and I'll make a note for you of his 
name and address — so that there may be no mistake about 
it if the thing really happens." 

He wrote accordingly on a blank leaf : "Mr. Septimus 
Luker, Middlesex Place, Lambeth, London." 

"There," he said, pointing to the address, "are the last 
words, on the subject of the Moonstone, which I shall trouble 
you with for the present. Time will show whether I am 
right or wrong. In the mean while, sir, I carry away with 
me a sincere personal liking iox you, which I think does 

199 



THE MOONSTONE 

honor to both of us. If we don't meet again before my pro- 
fessional retirement takes place, I hope you will come and 
see me in a little house near London, which I have got my 
eye on. There will be grass-walks, Mr. Betteredge, I prom- 
ise you, in my garden. And as for the white moss-rose — " 

"The deil a bit ye'll get the white moss-rose to grow, unless 
ye bud him on the dog-rose first," cried a voice at the window. 

We both turned round. There w^as the everlasting Mr. 
Begbie, too eager for the controversy to wait any longer at 
the gate. The Sergeant wrung my hand, and darted out 
into the court-yard, hotter still on his side. "Ask him about 
the moss-rose, when he comes back, and see if I have left 
him a leg to stand on !" cried the great Cuff, hailing me 
through the window in his turn. "Gentlemen both," I an- 
swered, moderating them again as I had moderated them 
once already, "in the matter of the moss-rose there is a great 
deal to be said on both sides." I might as well, as the Irish 
say, have whistled jigs to a mile-stone. Away they went to- 
gether, fighting the battle of the roses without asking or 
giving quarter on either side. The last I saw of them Mr. 
Begbie was shaking his obstinate head, and Sergeant Cuff 
had got him by the arm like a prisoner in charge. Ah, well ! 
well ! I own I couldn't help liking the Sergeant — though I 
hated him all the time. 

Explain that state of mind if you can. You will soon be 
rid now of me and my contradictions. When I have reported 
Mr. Franklin's departure, the history of the Saturday's events 
will be finished at last. And when I have next described 
certain strange things that happened in the course of the new 
week, I shall have done my part of the Story, and shall hand 
over the pen to the person who is appointed to follow my lead. 
If you are as tired of reading this narrative as I am of writing 
it — Lord, how we shall enjoy ourselves on both sides a few 
pages further on ! 



CHAPTER XXII. 

I HAD kept the pony-chaise ready, in case Mr. Franklin per- 
sisted in leaving us by the train that night. The appearance 
.of the luggage, followed down stairs by Mr. Franklin himself, 

200 



THE MOONSTONE 

informed me plainly enough that he had held firm to a reso- 
lution for once in his life. 

"So you have really made up your mind, sir?" I said, as 
we met in the hall. "Why not wait a day or two longer, and 
give Miss Rachel another chance?" 

The foreign varnish appeared to have all worn off Mr. 
Franklin, now that the time had come for saying good-bye. 
Instead of replying to me in words, he put the letter which 
her ladyship had addressed to him into my hand. The greater 
part of it said over again what had been said already in the 
other communication received by me. But there was a bit 
about Miss Rachel added at the end which will account for 
the steadiness of Mr. Franklin's determination, if it accounts 
for nothing else. 

"You will wonder, I dare say," her ladyship wrote, "at my 
allowing my own daughter to keep me perfectly in the dark. 
A Diamond worth twenty thousand pounds has been lost — 
and I am left to infer that the mystery of its disappearance 
is no mystery to Rachel, and that some incomprehensible 
obligation of silence has been laid on her, by some person or 
persons utterly unknown to me, with some object in view at 
which I can not even guess. Is it conceivable that I should 
allow myself to be trifled with in this way? It is quite con- 
ceivable, in Rachel's present state. She is in a condition of 
nervous agitation pitiable to see. I dare not approach the 
subject of the Moonstone again until time has done some- 
thing to quiet her. To help this end, I have not hesitated to 
dismiss the police officer. The mystery which baffles us baffles 
him too. This is not a matter in which any stranger can help 
us. He adds to what I have to suffer ; and he maddens Rachel 
if she only hears his name. 

"My plans for the future are as well settled as they can 
be. My present idea is to take Rachel to London — partly 
to relieve her mind by a complete change, partly to try what 
may be done by consulting the best medical advice. Can I 
ask you to meet us in town ? My dear Franklin, you. in your 
way, must imitate my patience, and wait, as I do, for a fitter 
time. The valuable assistance which you rendered to the in- 
quiry after the lost jewel is still an unpardoned offense, in 
the present dreadful state of Rachel's mind. Moving blind- 

201 



THE MOONSTONE 

fold in this matter, you have added to the burden of anxiety 
which she has had to bear, by innocently threatening her 
secret with discovery, through your exertions. It is impos- 
sible for me to excuse the perversity which holds you respon- 
sible for consequences which neither you nor I cpuld imagine 
or foresee. She is not to be reasoned with — she can only be 
pitied. I am grieved to have to say it, but, for the present, 
you and Rachel are better apart. The only advice I can offer 
you is, to give her time." 

I handed the letter back, sincerely sorry for Mr. Franklin, 
for I knew how fond he was of my young lady ; and I saw 
that her mother's account of her had cut him to the heart. 
"You know the proverb, sir," was all I said to him. "When 
things are at the worst, they're sure to mend. Things can't 
be much worse, Mr. Franklin, than they are now." 

Mr. Franklin folded up his aunt's letter, without appearing 
to be much comforted by the remark which I had ventured 
on addressing to him. 

"When I came here from London with that horrible Dia- 
mond," he said, "I don't believe there was a happier house- 
hold in England than this. Look at the household now ! 
Scattered, disunited — the very air of the place poisoned with 
mystery and suspicion ! Do you remember that morning at 
the Shivering Sand, when we talked about my uncle Hern- 
castle, and his birthday gift? The Moonstone has served 
the Colonel's vengeance, Betteredge, by means which the 
Colonel himself never dreamed of !" 

With that he shook me by the hand, and went out to the 
pony-chaise. 

I followed him down the steps. It was very miserable to 
see him leaving the old place, where he had spent the hap- 
piest years of his life, in this way. Penelope, sadly upset by 
all that had happened in the house, came round crying to bid 
him good-bye. Mr. Franklin kissed her. I waved my hand 
as much as to say, "You're heartily welcome, sir." Some of 
the other female servants appeared, peeping after him round 
the corner. He was one of those men whom the women all 
like. At the last moment I stopped the pony-chaise and 
begged as a favor that he would let us hear from him by 

203 



THE MOONSTONE 

letter. He didn't seem to heed what I said — he was looking 
round from one thing to another, taking a sort of farewell 
of the old house and grounds. "Tell us where you are going 
to, sir !" I said, holding on by the chaise, and trying to get 
at his future plans in that way. Mr. Franklin pulled his hat 
down suddenly over his eyes. "Going?" says he, echoing the 
word after me. "I am going to the devil !" The pony started 
at the word as if he felt a Christian horror of it. "God 
bless you, sir, go where you may!" was all I had time to say 
before he was out of sight and hearing. A sweet and pleasant 
gentleman ! With all his faults and follies, a sweet and pleas- 
ant gentleman ! He left a sad gap behind him when he left 
my lady's house. 

It was dull and dreary enough when the long summer 
evening closed in on that Saturday night. 

I kept my spirits from sinking by sticking fast to my pipe 
and my Robinson Crusoe. The women, excepting Penelope, 
beguiled the time by talking of Rosanna's suicide. They 
were all obstinately of opinion that the poor girl had stolen 
the Moonstone, and that she had destroyed herself in terror 
of being found out. My daughter, of course, privately held 
fast to what she had said all along. Her notion of the motive 
which was really at the bottom of the suicide failed, oddly 
enough, just where my young lady's assertion of her inno- 
cence failed also. It left Rosanna's secret journey to Friz- 
inghall and Rosanna's proceedings in the matter of the night- 
gown, entirely unaccounted for. There was no use in point- 
ing this out to Penelope ; the objection made about as much 
impression on her as a shower of rain on a water-proof coat. 
The truth is, my daughter inherits my superiority to reason 
— and in respect to that accomplishment has got a long way 
ahead of her own father. 

On the next day, Sunday, the close carriage, which had been 
kept at Mr. Ablewhite's, came back to us empty. The coach- 
man brought a message for me, and written instructions for 
my lady's own maid and for Penelope. 

The message informed me that my mistress had deter- 
mined to take Miss Rachel to her house in London on the 
Monday. The written instructions informed the two maids 

203 



THE MOONSTONE 

of the clothing that was wanted, and directed them to meet 
their mistresses in town at a given hour. Most of the other 
servants were to follow. My lady had found Miss Rachel 
so unwilling to return to the house, after what had happened 
in it, that she had decided on going to London direct from 
Frizinghall. I was to remain in the country, until further 
orders, to look after things indoors and out. The servants 
left with me were to be put on board wages. 

Being reminded by all this of what Mr. Franklin had said 
about our being a scattered and disunited household, my mind 
was led naturally to Mr. Franklin himself. The more I 
thought of him the more uneasy I felt about his future pro- 
ceedings. It ended in my writing, by the Sunday's post, to 
his father's valet, Mr. Jeffco, whom I had known in former 
years, to beg he would let me know what Mr. Franklin had 
settled to do on arriving in London. 

The Sunday evening was, if possible, duller even than the 
Saturday evening. We ended the day of rest as hundreds 
of thousands of people end it regularly, once a week, in these 
islands — that is to say, we all anticipated bed-time, and fell 
asleep in our chairs. 

Hov/ the Monday affected the rest of the household I don't 
know. The Monday gave me 2l good shake-up. The first of 
Sergeant Cuff's prophecies of what was to happen — namely, 
that I should hear from the Yollands — came true on that 
day. 

I had seen Penelope and my lady's maid off in the railway 
with the luggage for London, and was pottering about the 
grounds, when I heard my name called. Turning round, I 
found myself face to face with the fisherman's daughter, 
Limping Lucy. Bating her lame foot and her leanness, this 
last a horrid drawback to a woman, in my opinion, the girl 
had some pleasing qualities in the eye of a man. A dark, 
keen, clever face, and a nice clear voice, and a beautiful brown 
head of hair, counted among her merits. A crutch appeared 
in the list of her misfortunes. And a temper reckoned high 
in the sum total of her defects. 

"Well, my dear," I said, "what do you want with me?" 
"Where's the man you call Franklin Blake?" says the 

204 



THE MOONSTONE 

girl, fixing me with a fierce look as she rested herself on her 
crutch. 

"That's not a respectful way to speak of any gentleman," 
I answered. "If you wish to inquire for my lady's nephew, 
you will please mention him as Mr. Franklin Blake." 

She limped a step nearer to me, and looked as if she could 
have eaten me alive. "Mr. Franklin Blake ?" she repeated 
after me. "Murderer Franklin Blake would be a fitter name 
for him." 

My practice with the late Mrs. Betteredge came in handy 
here. Whenever a woman tries to put you out of temper, 
turn the tables, and put her out of temper instead. They are 
generally prepared for every effort you can make in your 
own defense but that. One word does as well as a hundred ; 
and one word did it with Limping Lucy. I looked her pleas- 
antly in the face; and I said — "Pooh!" 

The girl's temper flamed out directly. She poised herself 
on her sound foot, and she took her crutch and beat it furi- 
ously three times on the ground. "He's a murderer! he's 
a murderer ! he's a murderer ! He has been the death of 
Rosanna Spearman !" She screamed that answer out at the 
top of her voice. One or two of the people at work in the 
grounds near us looked up ; saw it was Limping Lucy ; knew 
what to expect from that quarter, and looked away again. 

"He has been the death of Rosanna Spearman ?" I repeated. 
"What makes you say that, Lucy?" 

"What do you care? What does any man care? Oh! if 
she had only thought of the men as I think, she might have 
been living now !" 

"She always thought kindly of me, poor soul," I said ; "and, 
to the best of my ability, I always tried to act kindly by her." 

I spoke those words in as comforting a manner as I could. 
The truth is, I hadn't the heart to irritate the girl by another 
of my smart replies. I had only noticed her temper at first. 
I noticed her wretchedness now — and wretchedness is not 
uncommonly insolent, you will find, in humble life. My an- 
swer melted Limping Lucy. She bent her head down, and 
laid it on the top of her crutch. 

"I loved her," the girl said, softly. "She had lived a miser- 
able life, Mr. Betteredge — vile people had ill-treated her and 

205 



THE MOONSTONE 

led her wrong and it hadn't spoiled her sweet temper. She 
was an angel. She might have been happy with me. I had 
a plan for our going to London together like sisters, and 
living by our needles. That man came here, and spoiled it 
all. He bewitched her. Don't tell me he didn't mean it, and 
didn't know it. He ought to have known it. He ought to 
have taken pity on her. T can't live without him — and, oh 
Lucy, he never even looks at me.' That's what she said. 
Cruel, cruel, cruel ! I said, 'No man is worth fretting for in 
that way.' And she said, 'There are men worth dying for, 
Lucy, and he is one of them.' I had saved up a little money. 
I had settled things with father and mother. I meant to 
take her away from the mortification she was suffering here. 
We should have had a little lodging in London, and lived 
together like sisters. She had a good education, sir, as you 
know, and she wrote a good hand. She was quick at her 
needle. I have a good education, and I write a good hand. 
I am not as quick at my needle as she was — but I could have 
done. We might have got our living nicely. And, oh ! what 
happens this morning? what happens this morning? Her 
letter comes^ and tells me she has done with the burden of 
her life. Her letter comes, and bids me good-bye forever. 
Where is he?" cries the girl, lifting her head from the crutch, 
and flaming out again through her tears. "Where's this gen- 
tleman that I mustn't speak of, except with respect? Ha, 
Mr. Betteredge, the day is not far off when the poor will rise 
against the rich. I pray Heaven they may begin with Jiiui. 
I pray Heaven they may begin with him." 

Here was another of your average good Christians, and 
here was the usual break-down, consequent on that same 
average Christianity being pushed too far ! The parson him- 
self, though I own this is saying a great deal, could hardly 
have lectured the girl in the state she was in now. All I 
ventured to do was to keep her to the point — in the hope of 
something turning up which might be worth hearing. 

"What do you want with Mr, Franklin Blake?" I asked. 

"I want to see him." 

"For any thing particular?" 

"I have got a letter to give him." 

"From Rosanna Spearman?" 

206 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Yes." 

"Sent to you in your own letter?" 

"Yes." 

Was the darkness going to lift? Were all the discoveries 
that I was dying to make, coming and offering themselves 
to me of their own accord ? I was obliged to wait a moment. 
Sergeant Cuff had left his infection behind him. Certain 
signs and tokens, personal to myself, warned me that the 
detective-fever was beginning to set in again. 

"You can't see Mr. Franklin," I said. 

"I must and will see him." 

"He went to London last night." 

Limping Lucy looked me hard in the face, and saw that I 
was speaking the truth. Without a word more she turned 
about again instantly toward Cobb's Hole. 

"Stop !" I said. "I expect news of Mr. Franklin Blake 
to-morrow. Give me your letter and I'll send it on to him 
by the post." 

Limping Lucy steadied herself on her crutch and looked 
back at me over her shoulder. 

"I am to give it from my hands into his hands," she said. 
"And I am to give it to him in no other way." 

"Shall I write and tell him what you have said ?" 

"Tell him I hate him. And you will tell him the truth." 

"Yes, yes. But about the letter — ?" 

"If he wants the letter, he must come back here and get 
it from me." 

With those words she limped off on the way to Cobb's 
Hole. The detective-fever burned up all my dignity on the 
spot. I followed her and tried to make her talk. All in vain. 
It was my misfortune to be a man and Limping Lucy en- 
joyed disappointing me. Later in the day I tried my luck 
with her mother. Good Mrs. Yolland could only cry and 
recommend a drop of comfort out of the Dutch bottle. I 
found the fisherman on the beach. He said it was "a bad 
job." and went on mending his net. Neither father nor 
mother knew more than I knew. The one chance left to try 
was the chance, which might come with the morning, of writ- 
ing to Mr. Franklin Blake. 

I leave you to imagine how I watched for the postman on 

207 



THE MOONSTONE 

Tuesday morning. He brought me two letters. One, from 
Penelope, which I had hardly patience enough to read, an- 
nounced that my lady and Miss Rachel were safely estab- 
lished in London. The other, from j\Ir. Jeffco, informed me 
that his master's son had left England already. 

On reaching the metropolis, Mr. Franklin had, it appeared, 
gone straight to his father's residence. He arrived at an 
awkward time. Mr. Blake, the elder, was up to his eyes in 
the business of the House of Commons and was amusing 
himself at home that night with the favorite parliamentary 
plaything which they call "a private bill." Mr. Jeffco him- 
self showed Mr. Franklin into his father's study. "My dear 
Franklin ! why do you surprise me in this way ? Any thing 
wrong?" "Yes; something wrong with Rachel; I am dread- 
fully distressed about it." "Grieved to hear it. But I can't 
listen to you now." "When ca?i you listen?" "My dear boy! 
I won't deceive you. I can listen at the end of the session, 
not a moment before. Good-night." "Thank you, sir. Good- 
night." 

Such was the conversation inside the study, as reported to 
me by Mr, Jeffco. The conversation outside the study was 
shorter still. "Jeffco, see what time the tidal train starts to- 
morrow morning." "At six-forty, Mr. Franklin." "Have 
me called at five." "Going abroad, sir?" "Going, Jeffco, 
wherever the railway chooses to take me." "Shall I tell your 
father, sir?" "Yes; tell him at the end of the session." 

The next morning ]\Ir. Franklin had started for foreign 
parts. To what particular place he was bound nobody, him- 
self included, could presume to guess. We might hear of 
him next in Europe, Asia, Africa, or America. The chances 
w^ere as equally divided as possible, in Mr. Jeffco's opinion, 
among the four quarters of the globe. 

This news — by closing up all prospect of my bringing 
Limping Lucy and Mr. Franklin together — at once stopped 
any further progress of mine on the way to discovery. Penel- 
ope's belief that her fellow-servant had destroyed herself 
through unrequited love for Mr. Franklin Blake was con- 
firmed — and that was all. Whether the letter which Rosanna 
had left to be given to him after her death did. or did not. 
contain the confession which Mr. Franklin had suspected her 

2oS 



THE MOONSTONE 

of trying- to make to him in her Ufetime, it was impossible 
to say. It might be only a farewell word, telling nothing but 
the secret of her unhappy fancy for a person beyond her 
reach. Or it might own the whole truth about the strange 
proceedings in which Sergeant Cuff had detected her, from 
the time when the Moonstone was lost to the time when she 
rushed to her own destruction at the Shivering Sand. A 
sealed letter it had been placed in Limping Lucy's hands, 
and a sealed letter it remained to me and to every one about 
the girl, her own parents included. We all suspected her of 
having been in the dead woman's confidence ; we all tried to 
make her speak ; we all failed. Now one, and now another, 
of the servants — still holding to the belief that Rosanna had 
stolen the Diamond and had hidden it — peered and poked 
about the rocks to which she had been traced, and peered 
and poked in vain. The tide ebbed, and the tide flowed ; the 
summer went on, and the autumn came. And the Quick- 
sand, which hid her body, hid her secret too. 

The news of Mr. Franklin's departure from England on 
the Sunday morning, and the news of my lady's arrival in 
London with Miss Rachel on the Monday afternoon, had 
reached me. as you are aware, by the Tuesday's post. The 
Wednesday came, and brought nothing. The Thursday pro- 
duced a second budget of news from Penelope. 

My girl's letter informed me that some great London doc- 
tor had been consulted about her young lady, and had earned 
a guinea by remarking that she had better be amused. 
Flower-shows, operas, balls — there was a whole round of 
gayeties in prospect ; and Miss Rachel, to her mother's aston- 
ishment, eagerly took to it all. Mr. Godfrey had called ; evi- 
dently as sweet as ever on his cousin, in spite of the reception 
he had met with, when he tried his luck on the occasion of 
the birthday. To Penelope's great regret, he had been most 
graciously received, and had added Miss Rachel's name to 
one of his Ladies' Charities on the spot. My mistress was 
reported to be out of spirits, and to have held two long inter- 
views with her lawyer. Certain speculations followed, re- 
ferring to a poor relation of the family — one Miss Clack, 
whom I have mentioned in my account of the birthday din- 
^* 209 



THE MOONSTONE 

ner, as sitting next to Mr. Godfrey, and having a pretty taste 
in champagne. Penelope was astonished that Miss Clack 
had not called yet. Surely she would not be long before she 
fastened herself on my lady as usual ! — and so on, and so on, 
in the way women have of girding at each other, on, and 
off, paper. This would not have been worth mentioning but 
for one reason. I hear you are likely to meet with Miss Clack. 
In that case, don't believe what she says of me. 

On Friday nothing happened — except that one of the dogs 
showed signs of a breaking-out behind the ears. I gave him 
a dose of syrup of buckthorn, and put him on a diet of pot- 
liquor and vegetables till further orders. Excuse my men- 
tioning this. It has slipped in somehow. Pass it over, please. 
I am fast coming to the end of my offenses against your cul- 
tivated modern taste. Besides, the dog was a good creature, 
and deserved a good physicking; he did indeed. 

Saturday, the last day of the week, is also the last day in 
my narrative. 

The morning's post brought me a surprise in the shape of 
a London newspaper. The handwriting on the direction 
puzzled me. I compared it with the money-lender's name 
and address as recorded in my pocket-book, and identified it 
at once as the writing of Sergeant Cuff. 

Looking through the paper eagerly enough, after this dis- 
covery, I found an ink-mark drawn round one of the police 
reports. Here it is at your service. Read it as I read it, and 
you will set the right value on the Sergeant's polite attention 
in sending me the news of the day : 

"Lambeth. — Shortly before the closing of the court, Mr. 
Septimus Luker, the well-known dealer in ancient gems, 
carvings, intaglii, etc., etc., applied to the sitting magistrate 
for advice. The applicant stated that he had been annoyed, 
at intervals throughout the day, by the proceedings of some 
of those strolling Indians who infest the streets. The per- 
sons complained of were three in number. After having 
been sent away by the police, they had returned again and 
again, and had attempted to enter the house on pretense of 
asking for charity. Warned off in the front, they had been 

2IO 



THE MOONSTONE 

discovered again at the back of the premises. Besides the 
annoyance complained of, Mr. Luker expressed himself as 
being under some apprehension that robbery might be con- 
templated. His collection contained many unique gems, both 
classical and Oriental, of the highest value. He had only the 
day before been compelled to dismiss a skilled workman in 
ivory carving from his employment (a native of India, as we 
understood) on suspicion of attempted theft; and he felt 
by no means sure that this man and the street- jugglers of 
whom he complained might not be acting in concert. It might 
be their object to collect a crowd, and create a disturbance 
in the street, and, in the confusion thus caused, to obtain 
access to the house. In reply to the magistrate, Mr. Luker 
admitted that he had no evidence to produce of any attempt 
at robbery being in contemplation. He could speak positively 
to the annoyance and interruption caused by the Indians, but 
not to any thing else. The magistrate remarked that, if the 
annoyance were repeated, the applicant could summon the 
Indians to that court, where they might easily be dealt with 
under the Act. As to the valuables in Mr. Luker's posses- 
sion, Mr. Luker himself must take the best measures for their 
safe custody. He would do well, perhaps, to communicate 
with the police, and to adopt such additional precautions as 
their experience might suggest. The applicant thanked his 
worship and withdrew." 

One of the wise ancients is reported, I forgot on what occa- 
sion, as having recommended his fellow-creatures to "look to 
the end." Looking to the end of these pages of mine, and 
wondering for some days past how I should manage to write 
it, I find my plain statement of facts coming to a conclusion, 
most appropriately, of its own self. We have gone on, in 
this matter of the Moonstone, from one marvel to another; 
and here we end with the greatest marvel of all — namely, 
the accomplishment of Sergeant Cuff's three predictions in 
less than a week from the time when he had made them. 

After hearing from the Yollands on the Monday, I had 
now heard of the Indians, and heard of the money-lender, in 
the news from London — Miss Rachel herself, remember, be- 
ing also in London at the time. You see, I put things at 
their worst, even when they tell dead against my own view. 

211 



THE MOONSTONE 

If you desert me, and side with the Sergeant, on the evidence 
before you — if the only rational explanation you can see is, 
that Miss Rachel and Mr. Luker must have got together, and 
that the Moonstone must be now in pledge in the money- 
lender's house — I own I can't blame you for arriving at that 
conclusion. In the dark I have brought you thus far. In 
the dark I am compelled to leave you with my best respects. 

Why compelled? it may be asked. Why not take the per- 
sons who have gone along with me so far up into those 
regions of superior enlightenment in which I sit myself? 

In answer to this I can only state that I am acting under 
orders, and that those orders have been given to me, as I 
understand, in the interests of truth. I am forbidden to tell 
more in this narrative than I knew myself at the time. Or, 
to put it plainer, I am to keep strictly within the limits of 
my own experience, and am not to inform you of what other 
persons told me — for the very sufficient reason that you are 
to have the information from those other persons themselves 
at first hand. In this matter of the Moonstone the plan is, 
not to present reports, but to produce witnesses. I picture 
to myself a member of the family reading these pages fifty 
years hence. Lord ! what a compliment he will feel it, to be 
asked to take nothing on hearsay, and to be treated in all 
respects like a Judge on the Bench. 

At this place, then, we part — for the present, at least — after 
long journeying together, with a companionable feeling, I 
hope, on both sides. The devil's dance of the Indian Diamond 
has threaded its way to London ; and to London you must 
go after it, leaving me at the country house. Please to excuse 
the faults of this composition — my talking so much of my- 
self, and being too familiar, I am afraid, with you. I mean 
no harm ; and I drink most respectfully, having just done 
dinner, to your health and prosperity, in a tankard of her 
ladyship's ale. May you find in these leaves of my writing 
what Robinson Crusoe found in his Experience on the desert 
island — namely, "something to comfort yourselves from, and 
to set, in the description of Good and Evil, on the Credit Side 
of the Account." — Farewell. 

THE END OF THE FIRST PERIOD. 
2X2 



SECOND PERIOD. THE DISCOVERY OF THE 
TRUTH. (1848-1849.) 

The Events related in several Narratives. 

FIRST NARRATIVE 

Contributed by Miss Clack, Niece of tlw late Sir John Verinder. 



CHAPTER I. 



I AM indebted to my dear parents, both now in heaven, for 
having had habits of order and regularity instilled into me 
at a very early age. 

In that happy by-gone time I was taught to keep my hair 
tidy at all hours of the day and night, and to fold up every 
article of my clothing carefully, in the same order, on the 
same chair, in the same place at the foot of the bed, before 
retiring to rest. An entry of the day's events in my little 
diary invariably preceded the folding up. The Evening 
Hymn, repeated in bed, invariably followed the folding up. 
And the sweet sleep of childhood invariably followed the 
Evening Hymn. 

In later life, alas ! the Hymn has been succeeded by sad 
and bitter meditations ; and the sweet sleep has been but ill 
exchanged for the broken slumbers which haunt the uneasy 
pillow of care. On the other hand, I have continued to fold 
my clothes, and to keep my little diary. The former habit 
links me to my happy childhood — before papa was ruined. 
The latter habit — hitherto mainly useful in helping me to 
discipline the fallen nature which we all inherit from Adam — 
has unexpectedly proved important to my humble interests 
in quite another way. It has enabled poor Me to serve the 
caprice of a wealthy member of our family. I am fortunate 
enough to be useful, in the worldly sense of the word, to Mr. 
Franklin Blake. 

213 



THE MOONSTONE 

I have been cut off from all news of the prosperous branch 
of the family for some time past. When we are isolated and 
poor we are not infrequently forgotten, I am now living, 
for economy's sake, in a little town in Brittany, inhabited by 
a select circle of serious English friends, and possessed of the 
advantages of a Protestant clergyman and a cheap market. 

In this retirement — a Patmos amidst the howling ocean 
of popery that surrounds us — a letter from England has 
reached me at last. I find my insignificant existence sud- 
denly remembered by Mr. Franklin Blake. My wealthy rel- 
ative — would that I could add my spiritually-wealthy rela- 
tive ! — writes without even an attempt at disguising that he 
wants something of me. The whim has seized him to stir 
up the deplorable scandal of the Moonstone ; and I am to 
help him by writing the account of what I myself witnessed 
during my sojourn at Aunt Verinder's house in London. 
Pecuniary remuneration is offered to me — with the want of 
feeling peculiar to the rich. I am to re-open wounds that 
Time has barely closed ; I am to recall the most intensely 
painful remembrances — and this done, I am to feel myself 
compensated by a new laceration, in the shape of Mr. Blake's 
check. My nature is weak. It cost me a hard struggle, be- 
fore Christian humility conquered sinful pride, and self-denial 
accepted the check. 

Without my diary, I doubt — pray let me express it in the 
grossest terms ! — if I could have honestly earned my money. 
With my diary, the poor laborer, who forgives Mr. Blake for 
insulting her, is worthy of her hire. Nothing escaped nle at 
the time when I was staying with dear Avmt Verinder. Every 
thing was entered, thanks to my early training, day by day 
as it happened ; and every thing, down to the smallest par- 
ticular, shall be told here. My sacred regard for truth is, 
thank God ! far above my respect for persons. It \^ill be easy 
for Mr. Blake to suppress what may not prove to be suffi- 
ciently flattering in these pages to the person chiefly con- 
cerned in them. He had purchased my time; but not even 
his wealth can purchase my conscience too.^ 

1 Note. Added by Franklin Blake. — Miss Clack may make her mind quite 
easy on this point. Nothing will be added, altered, or removed, in her 
manuscript, or in any of the other manuscripts which pass through my hands. 

214 



THE MOONSTONE 

My diary informs me that I was accidentally passing- Aunt 
Verinder's house in Montagu Square, on Monday, 3d July, 
1848. 

Seeing the shutters opened, and the blinds drawn up, I 
felt that it would be an act of polite attention to knock and 
make inquiries. The person who answered the door informed 
me that my aunt and her daughter — I really can not call her 
my cousin ! — had arrived from the country a week since, and 
meditated making some stay in London. I sent up a mes- 
sage at once, declining to disturb them, and only begging to 
know whether I could be of any use. 

The person who answered the door took my message in 
insolent silence, and left me standing in the hall. She is the 
daughter of a heathen old man named Betteredge — long, too 
long, tolerated in my aunt's family. I sat down in the hall 
to wait for my answer — and having always a few tracts in 
my bag, I selected one which proved to be quite providen- 
tially applicable to the person who answered the door. The 
hall was dirty and the chair was hard ; but the blessed con- 
sciousness of returning good for evil raised me quite above 
any trifling considerations of that kind. The tract was one 
of a series addressed to young women on the sinfulness of 
dress. In style it was devoutly familiar. Its title was, "A 
Word With You On Your Cap-Ribbons." 

"My lady is much obliged, and begs you will come and 
lunch to-morrow at two." 

I passed over the manner in which she gave her message, 
and the dreadful boldness of her look. I thanked this young 
castaway ; and I said, in a tone of Christian interest, "Will 
you favor me by accepting a tract?" 

Whatever opinions any of the writers may express, whatever peculiarities of 
treatment may mark, and perhaps, in a literary sense, disfigure the narratives 
which I am now collecting, not a line will be tampered with anywhere, from 
first to last. As genuine documents they are sent to me — and as genuine 
documents I shall preserve them, indorsed by the attestations of witnesses 
who can speak to the facts. It only remains to be added, that "the person 
chiefly concerned" in Miss Clack's narrative is happy enough at the present 
moment not only to brave the smartest exercise of Miss Clack's pen, but even 
to recognize its unquestionable value as an instrument for the exhibition of 
Miss Clack's character. 



THE MOONSTONE 

She looked at the title. "Is it written by a man or a 
woman, miss? If it's written by a woman, I had rather not- 
read it on that account. If it's written by a man, I beg to 
inform him that he knows nothing about it." She handed 
me back the tract and opened the door. We must sow the 
good seed somehow. I waited till the door was shut on me, 
and slipped the tract into the letter-box. When I had dropped 
another tract through the area railings, I felt relieved, in 
some small degree, of a heavy responsibility toward others. 

We had a meeting that evening of the Select Committee 
of the Mothers'-Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society. The ob- 
ject of this excellent Charity is — as all serious people know 
— to rescue unredeemed fathers' trousers from the pawn- 
broker, and to prevent their resumption, on the part of the 
irreclaimable parent, by abridging them immediately to suit 
the proportions of the innocent son. I was a member, at that 
time, of the select committee ; and I mention the Society here, 
because my precious and admirable friend, Mr. Godfrey 
Ablewhite, was associated with our work of moral and mate- 
rial usefulness. I had expected to see him in the board-room 
on the Monday evening of which I am now writing, and had 
purposed to tell him when we met of dear Aunt Verinder's 
arrival in London. To my great disappointment, he never 
appeared. On my expressing a feeling of surprise at his 
absence, my sisters of the Committee all looked up together 
from their trousers, we had a great pressure of business that 
night, and asked in amazement if I had not heard the news. 
I acknowledged my ignorance, and was then told for the 
first time of an event which forms, so to speak, the starting- 
point of this narrative. On the previous Friday two gentle- 
men — occupying widejy different positions in society — had 
been the victims of an outrage which had startled all London. 
One of the gentlemen was Mr. Septimus Luker, of Lambeth. 
The other was Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite. 

Living in my present isolation, I have no means of intro- 
ducing the newspaper account of the outrage into my nar- 
rative. I was also deprived, at the time, of the inestimable 
advantage of hearing the events related by the fervid elo- 
quence of Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite. All I can do is to state 
the facts as they were stated, on that Monday evening, to me ; 

216 



THE MOONSTONE 

proceeding on the plan which I have been taught from in- 
fancy to adopt in folding up my clothes. Every thing shall 
be put neatly, and every thing shall be put in its place. These 
lines are written by a poor weak woman. From a poor weak 
woman, who will be cruel enough to expect more? 

The date — thanks to my dear parents, no dictionary that 
ever was written can be more particular than I am about 
dates — was Friday, June 30, 1848. 

Early on that memorable day our gifted Mr. Godfrey hap- 
pened to be cashing a check at a banking-house in Lombard 
Street. The name of the firm is accidentally blotted in my 
diary, and my sacred regard for truth forbids me to hazard 
a guess in a matter of this kind. Fortunately, the name of 
the firm doesn't matter. What does matter is a circum- 
stance that occurred when Mr. Godfrey had transacted his 
business. On gaining the door he encountered a gentleman 
— a perfect stranger to him — who was accidentally leaving 
the office exactly at the same time as himself. A momen- 
tary contest of politeness ensued between them as to who 
should be the first to pass through the door of the bank. The 
stranger insisted on making Mr. Godfrey precede him; Mr. 
Godfrey said a few civil words ; they bowed, and parted in 
the street. 

Thoughtless and superficial people may say, Here is surely 
a very trumpery little incident related in an absurdly circum- 
stantial manner. Oh, my young friends and fellow-sinners ! 
beware of presuming to exercise your poor carnal reason. 
Oh, be morally tidy ! Let your faith be as your stockings, 
and your stockings as your faith. Both ever spotless, and 
both ready to put on at a moment's notice ! 

I beg a thousand pardons. I have fallen insensibly into 
my Sunday-school style. Most inappropriate in such a record 
as this. Let me try to be worldly — let me say that trifles, 
in this case as in many others, led to terrible results. Merely 
premising that the polite stranger was Mr. Luker, of Lam- 
beth, we will now follow Mr. Godfrey home to his residence 
at Kilburn. 

He found waiting for him, in the hall, a poorly clad but 
delicate and interesting looking little boy. The boy handed 
him a letter, merely mentioning that he had been intrusted 

217 



THE MOONSTONE 

with it by an old lady whom he did not know, and who had 
given him no instructions to wait for an answer. Such inci- 
dents as these were not uncommon in Mr. Godfrey's large 
experience as a promoter of public charities. He let the boy 
go, and opened the letter. 

The handwriting was entirely unfamiliar to him. It re- 
quested his attendance, within an hour's time, at a house in 
Northumberland Street, Strand, which he had never had oc- 
casion to enter before. The object sought was to obtain from 
the worthy manager certain details on the subject of the 
Mothers '-Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society, and the informa- 
tion was wanted by an elderly lady who proposed adding 
largely to the resources of the charity, if her questions were 
met by satisfactory replies. She mentioned her name, and 
she added that the shortness of her stay in London prevented 
her from giving any longer notice to the eminent philan- 
thropist whom she addressed. 

Ordinary people might have hesitated before setting aside 
their own engagements to suit the convenience of a stranger. 
The Christian Hero never hesitates where good is to be done. 
Mr. Godfrey instantly turned back, and proceeded to the 
house in Northumberland Street. A most respectable though 
somewhat corpulent man answered the door, and, on hearing 
Mr. Godfrey's name, immediately conducted him into an 
empty apartment at the back, on the drawing-room floor. He 
noticed two unusual things on entering the room. One of 
them was a faint odor of musk and camphor. The other was 
an ancient Oriental manuscript, richly illuminated with Indian 
figures and devices, that lay open to inspection on a table. 

He was looking at the book, the position of which caused 
him to stand with his back turned toward the closed folding- 
doors communicating with the front-room, when, without the 
slightest previous noise to warn him, he felt himself sud- 
denly seized round the neck from behind. He had just time 
to notice that the arm round his neck was naked and of a 
tawny-brown color, before his eyes were bandaged, his mouth 
was gagged, and he was thrown helpless on the floor by, as 
he judged, two men. A third rifled his pockets, and — if, as 
a lady, I may venture to use such an expression — searched 
him, without ceremony, through and through to his skin, 

218 



THE MOONSTONE 

Here I should greatly enjoy saying a few cheering words 
on the devout confidence which could alone have sustained 
Mr. Godfrey in an emergency so terrible as this. Perhaps, 
however, the position and appearance of my admirable friend 
at the culminating period of the outrage, as above described, 
are hardly within the proper limits of female discussion. Let 
me pass over the next few moments, and return to Mr. God- 
frey at the time when the odious search of his person had 
been completed. The outrage had been perpetrated through- 
out in dead silence. At the end of it some words were ex- 
changed, among the invisible wretches, in a language which 
he did not understand, but in terms which were plainly ex- 
pressive, to his cultivated ear, of disappointment and rage. 
He was suddenly lifted from the ground, placed in a chair, 
and bound there hand and foot. The next moment he felt 
the air flowing in from the open door, listened and felt per- 
suaded that he was alone again in the room. 

An interval elapsed, and he heard a sound below like the 
rustling sound of a woman's dress. It advanced up the stairs, 
and stopped. A female scream rent the atmosphere of guilt. 
A man's voice below exclaimed, "Halloo !" A man's feet 
ascended the stairs. Mr. Godfrey felt Christian fingers un- 
fastening his bandage, and extracting his gag. He looked 
in amazement at two respectable strangers, and faintly artic- 
ulated, "What does it mean ?" The two respectable strangers 
looked back, and said, "Exactly the question we were going 
to ask yoii." 

The inevitable explanation followed. No ! Let me be 
scrupulously particular. Sal volatile and water followed, to 
compose dear Mr. Godfrey's nerves. The explanation came 
next. 

It appeared, from the statement of the landlord and land- 
lady of the house, persons of good repute in the neighbor- 
hood, that their first and second floor apartments had been 
engaged, on the previous day, for a week certain, by a most 
respectable-looking gentleman — the same who has been al- 
ready described as answering the door to Mr. Godfrey's 
knock. The gentleman had paid the week's rent and all the 
week's extras in advance, stating that the apartments were 
wanted for three Oriental noblemen, friends of his, who were 

2x9 



THE MOONSTONE 

visiting England for the first time. Early on the morning 
of the outrage two of the Oriental strangers, accompanied by 
their respectable English friend, took possession of the apart- 
ments. The third was expected to join them shortly ; and 
the luggage, reported as very bulky, was announced to follow 
when it had passed through the Custom-house, late in the 
afternoon. Not more than ten minutes previous to Mr. God- 
frey's visit the third foreigner had arrived. Nothing out of 
the common had happened, to the knowledge of the landlord 
and landlady down stairs, until within the last five minutes 
— when they had seen the three foreigners, accompanied by 
their respectable English friend, all leave the house together, 
walking quietly in the direction of the Strand. Remember- 
ing that a visitor had called, and not having seen the visitor 
also leave the house, the landlady had thought it rather 
strange that the gentleman should be left by himself up stairs. 
After a short discussion with her husband, she had considered 
it advisable to ascertain whether any thing was wrong. The 
result had followed, as I have already attempted to describe 
it ; and there the explanation of the landlord and the landlady 
came to an end. 

An investigation was next made in the room. Dear Mr. 
Godfrey's property was found scattered in all directions. 
When the articles were collected, however, nothing was miss- 
ing; his watch, chain, purse, keys, pocket-handkerchief, note- 
book, and all his loose papers, had been closely examined, 
and had then been left unharmed to be resumed by the owner. 
In the same way, not the smallest morsel of property belong- 
ing to the proprietors of the house had been abstracted. The 
Oriental noblemen had removed their own illuminated manu- 
script, and had removed nothing else. 

What did it mean? Taking the worldly point of view, it 
appeared to mean that Mr. Godfrey had been the victim of 
some incomprehensible error, committed by certain unknown 
men. A dark conspiracy was on foot in the midst of us ; 
and our beloved and innocent friend had been entangled in 
its meshes. When the Christian Hero of a hundred chari- 
table victories plunges into a pitfall that has been dug for 
him by mistake, oh, what a warning it is to the rest of us to 
be unceasingly on our guard ! How soon may our own evil 



THE MOONSTONE 

passions prove to be Oriental noblemen who pounce on us 
unawares ! 

I could write pages of affectionate warning on this one 
theme, but, alas ! I am not permitted to improve — I am con- 
demned to narrate. My wealthy relative's check — henceforth 
the incubus of my existence — warns me that I have not done 
with this record of violence yet. We must leave Mr. 
Godfrey to recover in Northumberland Street, and must 
follow the proceedings of Mr. Luker, at a later period of 
the day. 

After leaving the bank, Mr. Luker had visited various 
parts of London on business errands. Returning to his own 
residence, he found a letter waiting for him, which was de- 
scribed as having been left a short time previously by a boy. 
In this case, as in ]\Ir. Godfrey's case, the handwriting was 
strange ; but the name mentioned was the name of one of 
Mr. Luker's customers. His correspondent announced, writ- 
ing in the third person — apparently by the hand of a deputy, 
that he had been unexpectedly summoned to London. He 
had just established himself in lodgings in Alfred Place, Tot- 
tenham Court road ; and he desired to see Mr. Luker im- 
mediately, on the subject of a purchase which he contem- 
plated making. The gentleman was an' enthusiastic collector 
of Oriental antiquities, and had been for many years a lib- 
eral patron of the establishment in Lambeth. Oh, when shall 
we wean ourselves from the worship of Mammon ! Mr. 
Luker called a cab, and drove off instantly to his liberal 
patron. 

Exactly what had happened to ]\Ir. Godfrey in North- 
umberland Street now happened to Mr. Luker in Alfred 
Place. Once more the respectable man answered the door, 
and showed the visitor up stairs into the back drawing-room. 
There, again, lay the illuminated manuscript on a table. Mr. 
Luker's attention was absorbed, as Mr. Godfrey's attention 
had been absorbed, by this beautiful work of Indian art. He 
too was aroused from his studies by a tawny naked arm round 
his throat, by a bandage over his eyes, and by a gag in his 
mouth. He too was thrown prostrate, and searched to the 
skin. A longer interval had then elapsed than had passed 
in the experience of Mr. Godfrey; but it had ended as before, 



THE MOONSTONE 

in the persons of the house suspecting something wrong, and 
going up stairs to see what had happened. Precisely the 
same explanation which the landlord in Northumberland 
Street had given to Mr. Godfrey the landlord in Alfred Place 
now gave to Mr. Luker. Both had been imposed on in the 
same way by the plausible address and the well-filled purse 
of the respectable stranger, who introduced himself as acting 
for his foreign friends. The one point of difference between 
the two cases occurred when the scattered contents of Mr. 
Luker's pockets were being collected from the floor. His 
watch and purse were safe, but, less fortunate than Mr. God- 
frey, one of the loose papers that he carried about him had 
been taken away. The paper in question acknowledged the 
receipt of a valuable of great price which Mr. Luker had 
that day left in the care of his bankers. This document would 
be useless for purposes of fraud, inasmuch as it provided 
that the valuable should only be given up on the personal 
application of the owner. As soon as he recovered himself, 
Mr. Luker hurried to the bank, on the chance that the thieves 
who had robbed him might ignorantly present themselves 
with the receipt. Nothing had been seen of them when he 
arrived at the establishment, and nothing was seen of them 
afterward. Their respectable English friend had, in the 
opinion of the bankers, looked the receipt over before they 
attempted to make use of it, and had given them the necessary 
warning in good time. 

Information of both outrages was communicated to the 
police, and the needful investigations were pursued, I believe, 
with great energy. The authorities held that a robbery had 
been planned, on insufficient information received by the 
thieves. They had been plainly not sure whether Mr. Luker 
had, or had not, trusted the transmission of his precious gem 
to another person, and poor polite Mr. Godfrey had paid the 
penalty of having been seen accidentally speaking to him. 
Add to this, that Mr. Godfrey's absence from our Monday 
evening meeting had been occasioned by a consultation of the 
authorities, at which he was requested to assist — and all the 
explanations required being now given, I may proceed with 
the simpler story of my own little personal experiences in 
Montagu Square. 

222 



THE MOONSTONE 

I WAS punctual to the luncheon-hour on Tuesday. Reference 
to my diary shows this to have been a checkered day — much 
in it to be devoutly regretted, much in it to be devoutly thank- 
ful for. 

Dear Aunt Verinder received me with her usual grace 
and kindness. But I noticed after a little while that some- 
thing was wrong. Certain anxious looks escaped my aunt, 
all of which took the direction of her daughter. I never see 
Rachel myself without wondering how it can be that so 
insignificant-looking a person should be the child of such dis- 
tinguished parents as Sir John and Lady Verinder. On this 
occasion, however, she not only disappointed — she really 
shocked me. There was an absence of all lady-like restraint 
in her language and manner most painful to see. She was 
possessed by some feverish excitement which made her dis- 
tressingly loud when she laughed, and sinfully wasteful and 
capricious in what she ate and drank at lunch. I felt deeply 
for her poor mother, even before the true state of the case 
had been confidentially made known to me. 

Luncheon over, my aunt said : "Remember what the doc- 
tor told you, Rachel, about quieting yourself with a book 
after taking your meals." 

"Fll go into the library, mamma," she answered. "But 
if Godfrey calls, mind I am told of it. I am dying for more 
news of him, after his adventure in Northumberland Street." 
She kissed her mother on the forehead, and looked my way. 
"Good-bye, Clack !" she said, carelessly. Her insolence 
roused no angry feeling in me. I only made a private memo- 
randum to pray for her. 

When we were left by ourselves my aunt told me the whole 
horrible story of the Indian Diamond, which, I am happy to 
know, it is not necessary to repeat here. She did not conceal 
from me that she would have preferred keeping silence on 
the subject. But when her own servants all knew of the loss 
of the Moonstone, and when some of the circumstances had 
actually found their way into the newspapers — when 
strangers were speculating whether there was any connection 
between what had happened at Lady Verinder's country 
house, and what had happened in Northumberland Street 
and Alfred Place — concealment was not to be thought 

223 



THE MOONSTONE 

of; and perfect frankness became a necessity as well as a 
virtue. 

Some persons, hearing what I now heard, would have been 
probably overwhelmed with astonishment. For my own part, 
knowing Rachel's spirit to have been essentially unregenerate 
from her childhood upward, I was prepared for whatever my 
aunt could tell me on the subject of her daughter. It might 
have gone on from bad to worse till it ended in Murder; and 
I should still have said to myself, The natural result! oh, dear, 
dear, the natural result ! The one thing that did shock me 
was the course my aunt had taken under the circumstances. 
Here surely was a case for a clergyman, if ever there was one 
yet! Lady Verinder had thought it a case for a physician. 
All my poor aunt's early life had been passed in her father's 
godless household. The natural result again ! Oh, dear, 
dear, the natural result again ! 

"The doctor recommends plenty of exercise and amuse- 
ment for Rachel, and strongly urges me to keep her mind 
as much as possible from dwelling on the past," said Lady 
Verinder. 

"Oh, what heathen advice !" I thought to myself. "In this 
Christian country, what heathen advice !" 

My aunt went on : "I do my best to carry out the doctor's 
instructions. But this strange adventure of Godfrey's hap- 
pens at a most unfortunate time. Rachel has been incessantly 
restless and excited since she first heard of it. She left me 
no peace till I had written and asked my nephew Ablewhite 
to come here. She even feels an interest in the other 
person who was roughly used — Mr. Luker, or some such 
name — though the man is, of course, a total stranger to 
her." 

"Your knowledge of the world, dear aunt, is superior to 
mine," I suggested, diffidently. "But there must be a reason 
surely for this extraordinary conduct on Rachel's part. She 
is keeping a sinful secret from you and from every body. 
May there not be something in these recent events which 
threatens her secret with discovery ?" 

"Discovery?" repeated my aunt. "What can you possibly 
mean? Discovery through Mr. Luker? Discovery through 
my nephew?" 

224 



THE MOONSTONE 

As the word passed her lips a special providence occurred. 
The servant opened the door, and announced Mr. Godfrey 
Ablewhite. 



CHAPTER n. 



MR, GODFREY followed the announcement of his name 
— as Mr, Godfrey does every thing else — exactly at the 
right time. He was not so close on the servant's heels as to 
startle us. He was not so far behind as to cause us the double 
inconvenience of a pause and an open door. It is in the 
completeness of his daily life that the true Christian appears. 
This dear man was very complete. 

"Go to Miss Verinder," said my aunt, addressing the ser- 
vant, "and tell her Mr. Ablewhite is here." 

We both inquired after his health. We both asked him 
together whether he felt like himself again, after his terrible 
adventure of the past week. With perfect tact he contrived 
to answer us at the same moment. Lady Verinder had his 
reply in words. I had his charming smile. 

"What," he cried, with infinite tenderness, "have I done 
to deserve all this sympathy ? My dear aunt ! my dear Miss 
Clack ! I have merely been mistaken for somebody else. I 
have only been blindfolded ; I have only been strangled ; I 
have only been thrown flat on my back, on a very thin carpet 
covering a particularly hard floor. Just think how much 
worse it might have been ! I might have been murdered ; I 
might have been robbed. What have I lost? Nothing but 
nervous force — which the law doesn't recognize as property; 
so that, strictly speaking, I have lost nothing at all. If I 
could have had my own way I would have kept my adventure 
to myself — I shrink from all this fuss and publicity. But 
Mr. Luker made his injuries public, and viy injuries, as the 
necessary consequence, have been proclaimed in their turn, 
I have become the property of the newspapers until the 
gentle reader gets sick of the subject. I am very sick indeed 
of it myself. May the gentle reader soon be like me ! And 
how is dear Rachel? Still enjoying the gayeties of London? 
So glad to hear it ! Miss Clack, I need all your indulgence. 



15 



225 



THE MOONSTONE 

I am sadly behindliand with my committee work and my dear 
ladies. But I really do hope to look in at the Mothers'-Small- 
Clothes next week. Did you make cheering progress at 
Monday's Committee? Was the Board hopeful about future 
prospects? And are we nicely off for trousers?" 

The heavenly gentleness of his smile made his apologies 
irresistible. The richness of his deep voice added its own 
indescribable charm to the interesting business question which 
he had just addressed to me. In truth, we were almost too 
nicely off for trousers ; we were quite overwhelmed by them. 
I was just about to say so, when the door opened again, and 
an element of worldly disturbance entered the room in the 
person of Miss Verinder. 

She approached dear Mr. Godfrey at a most unlady-like. 
rate of speed, with her hair shockingly untidy, and her face, 
what I should call, unbecomingly flushed. 

"I am charmed to see you, Godfrey," she said, addressing 
him, I grieve to add, in the off-hand manner of one young 
man talking to another. 'T wish you had brought Mr. Luker 
with you. You and he, as long as our present excitement 
lasts, are the two most interesting men in all London. It's 
morbid to say this ; it's unhealthy ; its all that a well-regulated 
mind like Miss Clack's most instinctively shudders at. Never 
mind that. Tell me the whole of the Northumberland Street 
story directly. I know the newspapers have left some of it 
out." 

Even dear Mr. Godfrey partakes of the fallen nature which 
we all inherit from Adam — it is a very small share of our 
human legacy, but, alas ! he has it. I confess it grieved me 
to see him take Rachel's hand in both of his own hands, and 
lay it softly on the left side of his waistcoat. It was a direct 
encouragement to her reckless way of talking, and her in- 
solent reference to me. 

"Dearest Rachel," he said, in the same voice which had 
thrilled me when he spoke of our prospects and our trousers, 
"the newspapers have told you every thing — and they have 
told it much better than I can." 

"Godfrey thinks we all make too much of the matter," my 
aunt remarked. "He has just been saying that he doesn't care 
to speak of it." 

226 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Why?" 

She put the question with a sudden flash in her eyes, and 
a sudden look up into Mr. Godfrey's face. On his side, he 
looked down at her with an indulgence so injudicious and so 
ill-deserved that I really felt called on to interfere. 

"Rachel, darling!" I remonstrated, gently, "true greatness 
and true courage are ever modest." 

"You are a very good fellow in your way, Godfrey," she 
said — not taking the smallest notice, observe, of me, and still 
speaking to her cousin as if she was one young man address- 
ing another. "But I am quite sure you are not great ; I don't 
believe you possess any extraordinary courage ; and I am 
firmly persuaded — if you ever had any modesty — that your 
lady-worshipers relieved you of that virtue a good many 
years since. You have some private reason for not talking 
of your adventure in Northumberland Street ; and I mean to 
know it." 

"My reason is the simplest imaginable and the most easily 
acknowledged," he answered, still bearing with her. "I am 
tired of the subject." 

"You are tired of the subject? My dear Godfrey, I am 
going to make a remark." 

"What is it?" 

"You live a great deal too much in the society of women. 
And you have contracted two very bad habits in consequence. 
You have learned to talk nonsense seriously, and you have 
got into a way of telling fibs for the pleasure of telling them. 
You can't go straight with your lady-worshipers. I mean to 
make you go straight with me. Come and sit down. I am 
brimful of downright questions ; and I expect you to be brim- 
ful of downright answers." 

She actually dragged him across the room to a chair by 
the window, where the light would fall on his face. I deeply 
feel being obliged to report such language and to describe 
such conduct. But, hemmed in as I am, between Mr. Frank- 
lin Blake's check on one side and my own sacred regard for 
truth on the other, what am I to do? I looked at my aunt. 
She sat unmoved ; apparently in no way disposed to inter- 
fere. I had never noticed this kind of torpor in her before. 
It was, perhaps, the reaction after the trying time she had 

227 



THE MOONSTONE 

had in the country. , Not a pleasant symptom to remark, be 
it what it might, at dear Lady Verinder's age, and with dear 
Lady Verinder's autumnal exuberance of figure. 

In the mean time Rachel had settled herself at the window 
with our amiable and forbearing — our too forbearing — Mr. 
Godfrey. She began the string of questions with which she 
had threatened him, taking no more notice of her mother 
or of myself than if we had not been in the room. 

"Have the police done any thing, Godfrey?" 

"Nothing whatever." 

"It is certain, I suppose, that the three men who laid the 
trap for you were the same three men who afterward laid 
the trap for Mr. Luker?" 

"Humanlv speaking, my dear Rachel, there can be no doubt 
of it." 

"And not a trace of them has been discovered?" 

"Not a trace." 

"It is thought — is it not? — that these three men are the 
three Indians who came to our house in the country." 

"Some people think so." 

"Do you think so?" 

"My dear Rachel, they blindfolded me before I could see 
their faces. I know nothing whatever of the matter. How 
can I offer any opinion on it?" 

Even the angelic gentleness of Mr. Godfrey was, you see, 
beginning to give way at last under the persecution inflicted 
on him. Whether unbridled curiosity, or ungovernable dread, 
dictated Miss Verinder's questions, I do not presume to in- 
quire. I only report that, on Mr. Godfrey's attempting to 
rise, after giving her the answer just described, she actually 
took him by the two shoulders and pushed him back into his 
chair. — Oh, don't say this was immodest ! don't even hint that 
the recklessness of guilty terror could alone account for such 
conduct as I have described ! We must not judge others. 
My Christian friends, indeed, indeed, indeed, we must not 
judge others ! 

She went on with her questions, unabashed. Earnest Bib- 
lical students will perhaps be reminded — as I was reminded 
— of the blinded children of the devil, who went on with their 
orgies, unabashed, in the time before the Flood. 

228 



THE MOONSTONE 

"I want to know something about Mr. Luker, Godfrey." 

"I am again unfortunate, Rachel. No man knows less of 
Mr. Luker than I do." 

"You never saw him before you and he met accidentally 
at the bank ?" 

"Never." 

"You have seen him since?" 

"Yes. We have been examined together, as well as sepa- 
rately, to assist the police." 

"Mr. Luker was robbed of a receipt which he had got 
from his banker's — was he not ? What was the receipt for ?" 

"For a valuable gem which he had placed in the safe- 
keeping of the bank." 

"That's what the newspapers say. It may be enough for 
the general reader ; but it is not enough for me. The banker's 
receipt must have mentioned what the gem was?" 

"The banker's receipt, Rachel — as I have heard it described 
— mentioned nothing of the kind. A valuable gem, belong- 
ing to Mr. Luker ; deposited by Mr. Luker ; sealed with Mr. 
Luker's seal ; and only to be given up on Mr. Luker's per- 
sonal application. That was the form, and that is all I know 
about it." 

She waited a moment after he had said that. She looked 
at her mother and sighed. She looked back again at Mr. 
Godfrey, and went on. 

"Some of our private afifairs, at home," she said, "seem to 
have got into the newspapers ?" 

"I grieve to say, it is so." 

"And some idle people, perfect strangers to us, are trying 
to trace a connection between what happened at our house 
in Yorkshire and what has happened since here in London?" 

"The public curiosity, in certain quarters, is, I fear, taking 
that turn." 

"The people who say that the three unknown men who ill- 
used you and Mr. Luker are the three Indians, also say that 
the valuable gem — " 

There she stopped. She had become gradually, within 
the last few moments, whiter and whiter in the face. The 
extraordinary blackness of her hair made this paleness, bv 
contrast, so ghastly to look at that we all thought she would 

22f) 



THE MOONSTONE 

faint at that moment when she checked herself in the middle 
of her question. Dear Mr. Godfrey made a second attempt 
to leave his chair. My aunt entreated her to say no more. 
I followed my aunt with a modest medicinal peace-offering 
in the shape of a bottle of salts. We none of us produced 
the slightest eifect on her. "Godfrey, stay where you are. 
Mamma, there is not the least reason to be alarmed about me. 
Clack, you're dying to hear the end of it — I won't faint, ex- 
pressly to oblige you." 

Those were the exact words she used — taken down in my 
diary the moment I got home. But oh, don't let us judge ! 
My Christian friends, don't let us 'jw'^g'c ' 

She turned once more to Mr. Godfrey. With an obstinacy 
dreadful to see she went back again to the place where she 
had checked herself, and completed her question in these 
words : 

"I spoke to you a minute since about what people were 
saying in certain quarters. Tell me plainly, Godfrey, do they 
any of them say that Mr. Luker's valuable gem is — the 
Moonstone ?" 

As the name of the Indian Diamond passed her lips I saw 
a change come over my admirable friend. His complexion 
deepened. He lost the genial suavity of manner which is 
one of his greatest charms. A noble indignation inspired 
his reply. 

"They do say it," he answered. "There are people who 
don't hesitate to accuse Mr. Luker of telling a falsehood to 
serve some private interests of his own. He has over and 
over again solemnly declared that, until this scandal assailed 
him, he had never even heard of the Moonstone. And these 
vile people reply, without a shadow of proof to justify them, 
'He has his reasons for concealment ; we decline to believe 
him on his oath.' Shameful ! shameful !" 

Rachel looked at him very strangely — I can't well describe 
how — while he was speaking. When he had done, she 
said : 

"Considering that Mr. Luker is only a chance acquaintance 
of yours, you take up his cause, Godfrey, rather warmly." 

My gifted friend made her one of the most truly evangel- 
ical answers I ever heard in my life. 

230 



THE MOONSTONE 

"I hope, Rachel, I take up the cause of all oppressed people 
rather warmly," he said. 

The tone in which those words were spoken might have 
melted a stone. But, oh dear, what is the hardness of stone? 
Nothing compared to the hardness of the unregenerate human 
heart ! She sneered. I blush to record it — she sneered at 
him to his face. 

"Keep your beautiful language for your Ladies' Commit- 
tees, Godfrey. I am certain that the scandal which has 
assailed Mr. Luker has not spared you." 

Even my aunt's torpor was roused by those words. 

"My dear Rachel," she remonstrated, "you have really no 
right to say that !" 

"I mean no harm, mamma — I mean good. Have a mo- 
ment's patience with me, and you will see." 

She looked back at Mr. Godfrey with what appeared to be 
a sudden pity for him. She went the length — the very unlady- 
like length — of taking him by the hand. 

"I am certain," she said, "that I have found out the true 
reason of your unwillingness to speak of this matter before 
my mother and before me. An unlucky accident has asso- 
ciated you in people's minds with Mr. Luker. You have 
told me what scandal says of hini. What does scandal say 
of your 

Even at the eleventh hour, dear Mr. Godfrey — always 
ready to return good for evil — tried to spare her. 

"Don't ask me!" he said. "It's better forgotten, Rachel — 
it is indeed." 

"I ivill hear it !" she cried out, fiercely, at the top of her 
voice. 

"Tell her, Godfrey !" entreated my aunt. "Nothing can do 
her such harm as your silence is doing now !" 

Mr. Godfrey's fine eyes filled with tears. He cast one 
last appealing look at her — and then he spoke the fatal 
words : 

"If you will have it, Rachel — scandal says that the Moon- 
stone is in pledge to ]\Ir. Luker, and that I am the man who 
has pawned it." 

She started to her feet with a scream. She looked back- 
ward and forward from ATr. Godfrey to my aunt, and froni 

231 



THE MOONSTONE 

my aunt to Mr. Godfrey, in such a frantic manner that I 
really thought she had gone mad. 

"Don't speak to me! Don't touch me!" she exclaimed, 
shrinking back from all of us — I declare like some hunted 
animal! — into a corner of the room. "This is my fault! I 
must set it right. I have sacrificed myself — I had a right 
to do that if I liked. But to let an innocent man be ruined ; 
to keep a secret which destroys his character for life — Oh, 
good God, it's too horrible ! I can't bear it !" 

My aunt half rose from her chair, then suddenly sat down 
again. She called to me faintly, and pointed to a little phial 
in her work-box. 

"Quick !" she whispered. "Six drops, in water. Don't let 
Rachel see." 

Under other circumstances I should have thought this 
strange. There was no time now to think — there was only 
time to give the medicine. Dear Mr. Godfrey unconsciously 
assisted me in concealing what I was about from Rachel by 
speaking composing words to her at the other end of the 
room. 

"Indeed — indeed you exaggerate," I heard him say. "My 
reputation stands too high to be destroyed by a miserable 
passing scandal like this. It will be all forgotten in another 
week. Let us never speak of it again." 

She was perfectly inaccessible even to such generosity as 
this. She went on from bad to worse. 

"I must and will stop it," she said. "Mamma ! hear what 
I say. Miss Clack ! hear what I say. I know the hand that 
took the Moonstone. I know" — she laid a strong emphasis 
on the words ; she stamped her foot in the rage that possessed 
her — "/ know that Godfrey Ahlezvhite is innocent! Take me 
to the magistrate, Godfrey! Take me to the magistrate, and 
I will swear it !" 

My aunt caught me by the hand and whispered, "Stand 
between us for a minute or two. Don't let Rachel see me." 
I noticed a bluish tinge in her face which alarmed me. She 
saw I was startled. "The drops will put me right in a minute 
or two," she said, and so closed her eyes and waited a little. 

While this was going on I heard dear Mr. Godfrey still 
gently remonstrating. 

232 



THE MOONSTONE 

"You must not appear publicly in such a thing as this," 
he said. "Your reputation, dearest Rachel, is something too 
pure and too sacred to be trifled with." 

"My reputation !" She burst out laughing. "Why, I am 
accused, Godfrey, as well as you. The best detective officer 
in England declares that I have stolen my own Diamond. 
Ask him what he thinks, and he will tell you that I have 
pledged the Moonstone to pay my private debts !" She 
stopped — ran across the room — and fell on her knees at her 
mother's feet. "Oh, mamma ! mamma ! mamma ! I must be 
mad — mustn't I? — not to own the truth nozv!" She was too 
vehement to notice her mother's condition — she was on her 
feet again and back with Mr. Godfrey in an instant. "I won't 
let you — I won't let any innocent man — be accused and dis- 
graced through my fault. If you won't take me before the 
magistrate, draw out a declaration of your innocence on 
paper, and I will sign it. Do as I tell you, Godfrey, or I'll 
write it to the newspapers — I'll go out and cry it in the 
streets !" 

We will not say this was the language of remorse — we 
will say it was the language of hysterics. Indulgent Mr. 
Godfrey pacified her by taking a sheet of paper and drawing 
out the declaration. She signed it in a feverish hurry. "Show 
it everywhere — don't think of nie," she said, as she gave it 
to him. "1 am afraid, Godfrey, I have not done you justice 
hitherto in my thoughts. You are more unselfish — you are a 
better man than I believed you to be. Come here when you 
can, and I will try and repair the wrong I have done you." 

She gave him her hand. Alas for our fallen nature ! Alas 
for Mr. Godfrey! He not only forgot himself so far as to 
kiss her hand — he adopted a gentleness of tone in answering 
her which, in such a case, was little better than a compromise 
with sin. "I will come, dearest," he said, "on condition that 
we don't speak of this hateful subject again." Never had I 
seen and heard our Christian Hero to less advantage than on 
this occasion. 

Before another word could be said by any body a thunder- 
ing knock at the street-door startled us all. I looked through 
the window and saw the World, the Flesh, and the Devil wait- 
ing before the house — as typified in a carriage and horses, 

233 



THE MOONSTONE 

a powdered footman, and three of the most audaciously- 
dressed women I ever beheld in my life. 

Rachel started and composed herself. She crossed the room 
to her mother. 

"They have come to take me to the flower-show," she said. 
"One word, mamma, before I go. I have not distressed you, 
have I ?" 

Is the bluntness of moral feeling which could ask such a 
question as that, after what had just happened, to be pitied 
or condemned ? I like to lean toward mercy. Let us pity it. 

The drops had produced their effect. My poor aunt's com- 
plexion was like itself again. "No, no, my dear," she said. 
"Go with our friends and enjoy yourself." 

Her daughter stooped and kissed her. I had left the win- 
dow, and was near the door when Rachel approached it to 
go out. Another change had come over her — she was in 
tears. I looked with interest at the momentary softening of 
that obdurate heart. I felt inclined to say a few earnest 
words. Alas ! my well-meant sympathy only gave offense. 
"What do you mean by pitying me?" she asked, in a bitter 
whisper, as she passed to the door. "Don't you see how 
happy I am? I'm. going to the flower-show, Clack; and I've 
got the prettiest bonnet in London." She completed the hol- 
low mockery of that address by blowing me a kiss — and so 
left the room. 

I wish I could describe in words the compassion that I felt 
for this miserable and misguided girl. But I am almost as 
poorly provided with words as with money. Permit me to 
say — my heart bled for her. 

Returning to my aunt's chair, I observed dear Mr. Godfrey 
searching for something softly here and there in different 
parts of the room. Before I could ofifer to assist him he had 
found what he wanted. He came back to my aunt and me, 
with his declaration of innocence in one hand and with a box 
of matches in the other. 

"Dear aunt, a little conspiracy !" he said. "Dear Miss 
Clack, a pious fraud which even your high moral rectitude 
will excuse ! Will you leave Rachel to suppose that I accept 
the generous self-sacrifice which has signed this paper? And 
will you kindly bear witness that I destroy it in your presence 

234 



THE MOONSTONE 

before I leave the house ?" He kindled a match, and lighting 
the paper laid it to burn in a plate on the table. "Any trifling 
inconvenience that I may suffer is as nothing," he remarked, 
"compared with the importance of preserving that pure name 
from the contaminating contact of the world. There ! We 
have reduced it to a little harmless heap of ashes, and our 
dear impulsive Rachel will never know what we have done ! 
How do you feel ? — my precious friends, how do you feel ? 
For my poor part, I am as light-hearted as a boy !" 

He beamed on us with his beautiful smile ; he held out a 
hand to my aunt and a hand to me. I was too deeply affected 
by his noble conduct to speak. I closed my eyes ; I put his 
hand, in a kind of spiritual self-forgetfulness, to my lips. He 
murmured a soft remonstrance. Oh, the ecstasy, the pure, 
unearthly ecstasy of that moment ! I sat — I hardly know on 
what — quite lost in my own exalted feelings. When I opened 
my eyes again it was like descending from heaven to earth. 
There was nobody but my aunt in the room. He had gone. 

I SHOULD like to stop here — I should like to close my narra- 
tive with the record of Mr. Godfrey's noble conduct. Unhap- 
pily there is more, much more, which the unrelenting pecu- 
niary-pressure of Mr. Blake's check obliges me to tell. The 
painful disclosures which were to reveal themselves in my 
presence during that Tuesday's visit to Montagu Square were 
not at an end yet. 

Finding myself alone with Lady Verinder, I turned nat- 
urally to the subject of her health, touching delicately on the 
strange anxiety which she had shown to conceal her indisposi- 
tion, and the remedy applied to it, from the observation of 
her daughter. 

My aunt's reply greatly surprised me. 

"Drusilla," she said — if I have not already mentioned that 
my Christian name is Drusilla, permit me to mention it now 
— "you are touching — quite innocently, I know — on a very 
distressing subject." 

I rose immediately. Delicacy left me but one alternative 
— the alternative, after first making my apologies, of taking 
my leave. Lady Verinder stopped me and insisted on my 
sitting down again. 

235 



THE MOONSTONE 

"You have surprised a secret," she said, "which I had con- 
fided to my sister, Mrs. Ablewhite, and to my lawyer, Mr. 
Bruff, and to no one else. I can trust in their discretion; 
and I am sure, when I tell you the circumstances, I can trust 
in yours. Have you any pressing engagement, Drusilla? or 
is your time your own this afternoon ?" 

It is needless to say that my time was entirely at my aunt's 
disposal. 

"Keep me company, then," she said, "for another hour. I 
have something to tell you which I believe you will be sorry 
to hear. And I shall have a service to ask of you afterward, 
if you don't object to assist me." 

It is again needless to say that, so far from objecting, I 
was all eagerness to assist her. 

"You can wait here," she went on, "till Mr. Bruff comes 
at five. And you can be one of the witnesses, Drusilla, when 
I sign my will." 

Her will ! I thought of the drops which I had seen in her 
work-box. I thought of the bluish tinge which I had noticed 
in her complexion. A light which was not of this world — 
a light shining prophetically from an unmade grave — dawned 
solemnly on my mind. My aunt's secret was a secret no 
longer. 



CHAPTER III. 

CONSIDERATION for poor Lady Verinder forbade me 
even to hint that I had guessed the melancholy truth be- 
fore she opened her lips. I waited her pleasure in silence ; 
and, having privately arranged to say a few sustaining words 
at the first convenient opportunity, felt prepared for any duty 
that could claim me, no matter how painful it might be. 

"I have been seriously ill, Drusilla, for some time past," 
my aunt began. "And strange to say, without knowing it 
myself." 

I thought of the thousands on thousands of perishing 
human creatures who were all at that moment spiritually ill, 
without knowing it themselves. And I greatly feared that 

236 



THE MOONSTONE 

my poor aunt might be one of the number. "Yes, dear," I 
said, sadly. "Yes." 

"I brought Rachel to London, as you know, for medical 
advice," she went on. "I thought it right to consult two 
doctors." 

Two doctors ! And, oh me, in Rachel's state, not one 
clergyman ! "Yes, dear," I said once more. "Yes ?" 

"One of the two medical men," proceeded my aunt, "was 
a stranger to me. The other had been an old friend of my 
husband's, and had always felt a sincere interest in me for 
my husband's sake. After prescribing for Rachel, he said 
he wished to speak to me privately in another room. I ex- 
pected, of course, to receive some special directions for the 
management of my daughter's health. To my surprise, he 
took me gravely by the hand, and said, T have been looking 
at you, Lady Verinder, with a professional as well as a per- 
sonal interest. You are, I am afraid, far more urgently in 
need of medical advice than your daughter.' He put some 
questions to me which I was at first inclined to treat lightly 
enough, until I observed that my answers distressed him. It 
ended in his making an appointment to come and see me, 
accompanied by a medical friend, on the next day, at an hour 
when Rachel would not be at home. The result of that visit 
-^niost kindly and gently conveyed to me — satisfied both the 
physicians that there had been precious time lost which 
could never be regained, and that my case had now passed 
beyond the reach of cheir art. For more than two years I 
have been suffering under an insidious form of heart disease, 
which, without any symptoms to alarm me, has, by little and 
little, fatally broken me down. I may live for some months, 
or I may die before another day has passed over my head — 
the doctors can not, and dare not, speak more positively than 
this. It would be vain to say, my dear, that I have not had 
some miserable moments since my real situation has been 
made known to me. But I am more resigned than I was, 
and I am doing my best to set my worldly affairs in order. 
My one great anxiety is that Rachel should be kept in igno- 
rance of the truth. If she knew it, she would at once attrib- 
ute my broken health to anxiety about the Diamond, and 
would reproach herself bitterly, poor child, for what is in no 

337 



THE MOONSTONE 

sense her fault. Both the doctors agree that the mischief 
began two, if not three years since. I am sure you will keep 
my secret, Drusilla — for I am sure I see sincere sorrow and 
sympathy for me in your face." 

Sorrow and sympathy ! Oh, what Pagan emotions to ex- 
pect from a Christian Englishwoman anchored firmly on her 
faith ! 

Little did my poor aunt imagine what a gush of devout 
thankfulness thrilled through me as she approached the close 
of her melancholy story. Here was a career of usefulness 
opened before me ! Here was a beloved relative and perish- 
ing fellow-creature, on the eve of the great change, utterly 
unprepared ; and led, providentially led, to reveal her situa- 
tion to me ! How can I describe the joy with which I now 
remembered that the precious clerical friends on whom I 
could rely were to be counted, not by ones or twos, but by 
tens and twenties ! I took my aunt in my arms — my over- 
flowing tenderness was not to be satisfied nozv with any thing 
less than an embrace. "Oh !" I said to her, fervently, "the 
indescribable interest with which you inspire me ! Oh ! the 
good I mean to do you, dear, before we part !" After another 
word or two of earnest prefatory warning, I gave her her 
choice of three precious friends, all plying the work of mercy 
from morning to night in her own neighborhood; all equally 
inexhaustible in exhortation ; all affectionately ready to exer- 
cise their gifts at a word from me. Alas ! the result was far 
from encouraging. Poor Lady Verinder looked puzzled and 
frightened, and met every thing I could say to her with the 
purely worldly objection that she was not strong enough to 
face strangers. I yielded — for the moment only, of course. 
My large experience, as Reader and Visitor, under not less, 
first and last, than fourteen beloved clerical friends, informed 
me that this was another case for preparation by books. I 
possessed a little library of works, all suitable to the present 
emergency, all calculated to arouse, convince, prepare, en- 
lighten, and fortify my aunt. "You will read, dear, won't 
you?" I said, in my most winning way. "You will read, if 
I bring you my own precious books? Turned down at all 
the right places, aunt. And marked in pencil where you are 
to stop and ask yourself, 'Does this apply to me?'" Even 

238 



THE MOONSTONE 

that simple appeal — so absolutely heathenizing is the influence 
of the world — appeared to startle my aunt. She said, "I will 
do what I can, Drusilla, to please you," with a look of sur- 
prise, which was at once instructive and terrible to see. Not 
a moment was to be lost. The clock on the mantel-piece 
informed me that I had just time to hurry home, to pro- 
vide myself with a first series of selected readings, say 
a dozen only, and to return in time to meet the lawyer, 
and witness Lady Verinder's will. Promising faithfully 
to be back by five o'clock, I left the house on my errand 
of mercy. 

When no interests but my own are involved, I am humbly 
content to get from place to place by the omnibus. Permit 
me to give an idea of my devotion to my aunt's interests by 
recording that, on this occasion, I committed the prodigality 
of taking a cab. 

I drove home, selected and marked my first series of read- 
ings, and drove back to Montagu Square with a dozen works 
in a carpet-bag, the like of which, I firmly believe, are not to 
be found in the literature of any other country in Europe. 
I paid the cabman exactly his fare. He received it with an 
oath ; upon which I instantly gave him a tract. If I had 
presented a pistol at his head this abandoned wretch could 
hardly have exhibited greater consternation. He jumped up 
on his box, and, with profane exclamations of dismay, drove 
ofif furiously. Quite useless, I am happy to say ! I sowed 
the good seed, in spite of him, by throwing a second tract in 
at the window of the cab. 

The servant who answered the door — not the person with 
the cap-ribbons, to my great relief, but the footman — in- 
formed me that the doctor had called, and was still shut up 
with Lady Verinder. Mr. Brufif, the lawyer, had arrived a 
minute since, and was waiting in the library. I was shown 
into the library to wait too. 

Mr. Brufif looked surprised to see me. He is the family 
solicitor, and we had met more than once, on previous occa- 
sions, under Lady Verinder's roof. A man, I grieve to say, 
grown old and grizzled in the service of the world. A 
man who, in his hours of business, was the chosen prophet 

239 



THE MOONSTONE 

of Law and Mammon ; and who, in his hours of leisure, 
was equally capable of reading a novel and of tearing up a 
tract. 

"Have you come to stay here, Miss Clack ?" he asked, with 
a look at my carpet-bag. 

To reveal the contents of my precious bag to such a person 
as this would have been simply to invite an outburst of pro- 
fanity. I lowered myself to his own worldly level and men- 
tioned my business in the house. 

"My aunt has informed me that she is about to sign her 
will," I answered. "She has been so good as to ask me to 
be one of the witnesses." 

"Ay? ay? Well, Miss Clack, you will do. You are over 
twenty-one, and you have not the slightest pecuniary interest 
in Lady Verinder's will." 

Not the slightest pecuniary interest in Lady Verinder's 
will. Oh, how thankful I felt when I heard that ! If my 
aunt, possessed of thousands, had remembered poor me, to 
whom five pounds is an object — if my name had appeared 
in the will, with a little comforting legacy attached to it — 
my enemies might have doubted the motive which had loaded 
me with the choicest treasures of my library, and had drawn 
upon my failing resources for the prodigal expenses of a 
cab. Not the crudest scoffer of them all could doubt now. 
Much better as it was ! Oh, surely, surely, much better as 
it was ! 

I was aroused from these consoling reflections by the voice 
of Mr. Bruff. My meditative silence appeared to weigh upon 
the spirits of this worldling, and to force him, as it were, 
into talking to me against his own will. 

"Well, Miss Clack, what's the last news in the charitable 
circles? How is your friend, Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite, after 
the mauling he got from the rogues in Northumberland 
Street ? Egad ! they're telling a pretty story about that chari- 
table gentleman at my club !" 

I had passed over the manner in which this person had re- 
marked that I was more than twenty-one, and that I had no 
pecuniary interest in my aunt's will. But the tone in which 
he alluded to dear Mr. Godfrey was too much for my for- 
bearance. Feeling bound, after what had passed in my pres- 

240 



THE MOONSTONE 

ence that afternoon, to assert the innocence of my admirable 
friend, whenever I found it called in question — I own to hav- 
ing also felt bound to include in the accomplishment of this 
righteous purpose a stinging castigation in the case of Mr. 
Bruff. 

"I live very much out of the world," I said; "and I don't 
possess the advantage, sir, of belonging to a club. But I hap- 
pen to know the story to which you allude ; and I also know 
that a viler falsehood than that story never was told." 

"Yes, yes. Miss Clack — you believe in your friend. Nat- 
ural enough. Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite won't find the world 
in general quite so easy to convince as a committee of chari- 
table ladies. Appearances are dead against him. He was 
in the house when the Diamond was lost. And he was the 
first person in the house to go to London afterward. Those 
are ugly circumstances, ma'am, viewed by the light of later 
events." 

I ought, I know, to have set him right before he went any 
further. I ought to have told him that he was speaking in 
ignorance of a testimony to Mr. Godfrey's innocence, offered 
by the only persjon who was undeniably competent to speak 
from a positive knowledge of the subject. Alas ! the tempta- 
tion to lead the lawyer artfully on to his own discomfiture 
was too much for me. I asked what he meant by "later 
events" — with an appearance of the utmost innocence. 

"By later events. Miss Clack, I mean events in which the 
Indians are concerned," proceeded Mr. Brufif, getting more 
and more superior to poor me the longer he went on. "What 
do the Indians do the moment they are let out of the prison 
at Frizinghall ? They go straight to London and fix on Mr. 
Luker. What does Mr. Luker say when he first applies to 
the magistrate for protection ? He owns to suspecting a for- 
eign workman in his establishment of collusion with the 
Indians. Can there be plainer moral evidence, so far, that the 
rogues had found an accomplice among the persons in Mr. 
Luker's employment, and that they knew the Moonstone to 
be in Mr. Luker's house? Very well. What follows? Mr. 
Luker feels alarmed, and with good reason, for the safety 
of the jewel which he has got in pledge. He lodges it pri- 
vately, under a general description, in his bankers' strong- 
16 241 



THE MOONSTONE 

room. Wonderfully clever of him ; but the Indians are just 
as clever on their side. They have their suspicions that the 
Diamond is being shifted from one place to another ; and they 
hit on a singularly bold and complete way of clearing those 
suspicions up. Whom do they seize and search? Not Mr. 
Luker only — which would be intelligible enough — but Mr. 
Godfrey Ablewhite as well. Why? Mr. Ablewhite's expla- 
nation is, that they acted on blind suspicion, after seeing him 
accidentally speaking to Mr. Luker. Absurd ! Half a dozen 
other people spoke to Mr. Luker that morning. Why were 
they not followed home too, and decoyed into the trap ? No ! 
no ! The plain inference is, that Mr. Ablewhite had his pri- 
vate interest in the Moonstone as well as Mr. Luker, and 
that the Indians were so uncertain as to which of the two 
had the disposal of the jewel that there was no alternative 
but to search them both. Public opinion says that. Miss 
Clack. And public opinion, on this occasion, is not easily 
refuted." 

He said those last words looking so wonderfully wise in 
his own worldly conceit that I really, to my shame be it 
spoken, could not resist leading him on a little further still 
before I overwhelmed him with the truth. 

'T don't presume to argue with a clever lawyer like you," 
I said. "But is it quite fair, sir, to Mr. Ablewhite to pass 
over the opinion of the famous London police officer who 
investigated this case? Not the shadow of a suspicion rested 
on any body but Miss Verinder, in the mind of Sergeant 
Cuff."' 

"Do you mean to tell me. Miss Clack, that you agree with 
the Sergeant?" 

"I judge nobody, sir, and I offer no opinion." 

"And I commit both those enormities, ma'am. I judge 
the Sergeant to have been utterly wrong; and I offer the 
opinion that, if he had known Rachel's character as I know 
it, he would have suspected every body in the house before 
he suspected her. I admit that she has her faults — she is 
secret, and self-willed; odd, and wild, and unlike other girls 
of her age. But true as steel, and high-minded and generous 
to a fault. If the plainest evidence in the world pointed one 
way, and if nothing but Rachel's word of honor pointed the 

242 



THE MOONSTONE 

other, I would take her word before the evidence, lawyer as 
I am! Strong language, Miss Clack; but I mean it." 

"Would you object to illustrate your meaning, Mr. Bruff, 
so that I may be sure I understand it? Suppose you found 
Miss Verinder quite unaccountably interested in what has 
happened to Mr. Ablewhite and Mr. Luker? Suppose she 
asked the strangest questions about this dreadful scandal, 
and displayed the most ungovernable agitation when she 
found out the turn it was taking?" 

"Suppose any thing you please, Miss Clack, it wouldn't 
shake my belief in Rachel Verinder by a hair's-breadth." 
"She is so absolutely to be relied on as that?" 
"So absolutely to be relied on as that." 
"Then permit me to inform you, Mr. Bruff, that Mr. God- 
frey Ablewhite was in this house not two hours since, and 
that his entire innocence of all concern in the disappearance 
of the Moonstone was proclaimed by Miss Verinder herself, 
in the strongest language I ever heard used by a young lady 
in my life." 

I enjoyed the triumph — the unholy triumph, I fear, I must 
admit — of seeing Mr. Bruff utterly confounded and over- 
thrown by a few plain words from me. He started to his 
feet and stared at me in silence. I kept my seat, undisturbed, 
and related the whole scene exactly as it had occurred. "And 
what do you say about Mr. Ablewhite, nozv?" I asked, with 
the utmost possible gentleness, as soon as I had done. 

"If Rachel has testified to his innocence, Miss Clack, I 
don't scruple to say that I believe in his innocence as firmly 
as you do. I have been misled by appearances, like the rest 
of the world ; and I will make the best atonement I can, by 
publicly contradicting the scandal which has assailed your 
friend wherever I meet with it. In the mean time, allow me 
to congratulate you on the masterly manner in which you 
have opened the full fire of your batteries on me at the 
moment when I least expected it. You would have done 
great things in my profession, ma'am, if you had happened to 
be a man." 

With those words he turned away from me, and began 
walking irritably up and down the room. 

I could see plainly that the new light I had thrown on the 

243 



THE MOONSTONE 

subject had greatly surprised and disturbed him. Certain 
expressions dropped from his Hps as he became more and 
more absorbed in his own thoughts, which suggested to my 
mind the abominable view that he had hitherto taken of the 
mystery of the lost Moonstone. He had not scrupled to sus- 
pect dear Mr. Godfrey of the infamy of taking the Diamond, 
and to attribute Rachel's conduct to a generous resolution to 
conceal the crime. On Miss Verinder's own authority — a 
perfectly unassailable authority, as you are aware, in the 
estimation of Mr. Bruff — that explanation of the circum- 
stances was now shown to be utterly wrong. The perplexity 
into which I had plunged this high legal authority was so 
overwhelming that he was quite unable to conceal it from 
notice. "What a case !" I heard him say to himself, stopping 
at the window in his walk, and drumming on the glass with 
his fingers. "It not only defies explanation, it's even beyond 
conjecture!" 

There was nothing in those words which made any reply 
at all needful on my part — and yet I answered them ! It 
seems hardly credible that I should not have been able to 
let Mr. Bruff alone, even now. It seems almost beyond mere 
mortal perversity that I should have discovered, in what he 
had just said, a new opportunity of making myself personally 
disagreeable to him. But — ah, my friends ! nothing is be- 
yond mortal perversity ; and any thing is credible when our 
fallen natures get the better of us ! 

"Pardon me for intruding on your reflections," I said to 
the unsuspecting Mr. Bruff. "But surely there is a conjecture 
to make which has not occurred to us yet?" 

"Maybe, Miss Clack. I own I don't know what it is." 

"Before I was so fortunate, sir, as to convince you of Mr. 
Ablewhite's innocence, you mentioned it as one of the rea- 
sons for suspecting him that he was in the house at the time 
when the Diamond was lost. Permit me to remind you that 
Mr. Franklin Blake was also in the house at the time when 
the Diamond was lost." 

The old worldling left the window, took a chair exactly 
opposite to mine, and looked at me steadily, with a hard 
and vicious- smile. 

"You are not so good a lawyer. Miss Clack," he remarked, 

244 



THE MOONSTONE 

in a meditative manner, "as I supposed. You don't know 
how to let well alone." 

"I am afraid I fail to follow you, Mr. Brufif," I said, mod- 
estly. 

"It won't do. Miss Clack — it really won't do a second 
time. Franklin Blake is a prime favorite of mine, as you 
are well aware. But that doesn't matter. I'll adopt your 
view, on this occasion, before you have time to turn round 
on me. You're quite right, ma'am. I have suspected Mr. 
Ablewhite, on grounds which abstractedly justify suspecting 
Mr. Blake too. Very good — let's suspect him together. It's 
quite in his character, we will say, to be capable of stealing 
the Moonstone. The only question is, wbdWier it was his in- 
terest to do it." 

"Mr. Franklin Blake's debts," I remarked, "are matters 
of family notoriety." 

"And Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite's debts have not arrived at 
that stage of development yet. Quite true. But there hap- 
pen to be two difficulties in the way of your theory. Miss 
Clack. I manage Franklin Blake's affairs, and I beg to 
inform you that the vast majority of his creditors, knowing 
his father to be a rich man, are quite content to charge in- 
terest on their debts, and to wait for their money. There is 
the first difficulty — which is tough enough. You will find 
the second tougher still. I have it on the authority of Lady 
Verinder herself, that her daughter was ready to marry 
Franklin Blake, before that infernal Indian Diamond dis- 
appeared from the house. She had drawn him on and put 
him off again, with the coquetry of a young girl. But she had 
confessed to her mother that she loved cousin Franklin, and 
her mother had trusted cousin Franklin with the secret. So 
there he was, Miss Clack, with his creditors content to 
wait, and with the certain prospect before him of marry- 
ing an heiress. By all means consider him a scoundrel ; 
but tell me, if you please, why he should steal the Aloon- 
stone ?" 

"The human heart is unsearchable," I said, gently. "Who 
is to fathom it?" 

"In other words, ma'am — though he hadn't the shadow 
of a reason for taking the Diamond — he might have taken it, 

245 



THE MOONSTONE 

nevertheless, through natural depravity. Very well. Say he 
did. Why the devil—?" 

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Bruff. If I hear the devil re- 
ferred to in that manner, I must leave the room." 

"I beg your pardon, Miss Clack — I'll be more careful in 
my choice of language for the future. All I meant to ask 
was this. Why — even supposing he did take the Diamond 
— should Franklin Blake make himself the most prominent 
person in the house, in trying to recover it? You may tell 
me he cunningly did that to divert suspicion from himself. 
I answer that he had no need to divert suspicion — because 
nobody suspected him. He first steals the Moonstone, with- 
out the slightest reason, through natural depravity ; and he 
then acts a part, in relation to the loss of the jewel, which 
there is not the slightest necessity to act, and which leads to 
his mortally offending the young lady who would otherwise 
have married him. That is the monstrous proposition which 
you are driven to assert, if you attempt to associate the dis- 
appearance of the Moonstone with Franklin Blake. No, no, 
Miss Clack ! After what has passed here to-day, between us 
two, the dead-lock in this case is complete. Rachel's own 
innocence is, as her mother knows, and as I know, beyond a 
doubt. Mr. Ablewhite's innocence is equally certain — or 
Rachel would never have testified to it. And Franklin 
Blake's innocence, as you have just seen, unanswerably as- 
serts itself. On the one hand, we are morally certain of all 
these things. And, on the other hand, we are equally sure 
that somebody has brought the Moonstone to London, and 
that Mr. Luker, or his banker, is in private possession of it 
at this moment. What is the use of my experience, what is 
the use of any person's experience, in such a case as that? 
It baffles me ; it baffles you ; it baffles every body." 

No — not every body. It had not baffled Sergeant Cuff. 
I was about to mention this with all possible mildness, and 
with every necessary protest against being supposed to cast 
a slur upon Rachel — when the servant came in to say that 
the doctor had gone, and that my aunt was waiting to re- 
ceive us. 

This stopped the discussion. Mr. Bruff collected his 
papers, looking a little exhausted by the demands which our 

246 



THE MOONSTONE 

conversation had made on him. I took up my bagful of 
precious pubHcations, feehng as if I could have gone on talk- 
ing for hours. We proceeded in silence to Lady Verinder's 
room. 

Permit me to add here, before my narrative advances to 
other events, that I have not described what passed between 
the lawyer and me without having a definite object in view. 
I am ordered to include in my contribution to the shocking 
story of the Moonstone a plain disclosure not only of the 
turn which suspicion took, but even of the names of the per- 
sons on whom suspicion rested at the time when the Indian 
Diamond was known to be in London. A report of my con- 
versation in the library with Mr. Brufif appeared to me to be 
exactly what was wanted to answer this purpose — while, at 
the same time, it possessed the great moral advantage of 
rendering a sacrifice of sinful self-esteem essentially necessary 
on my part. I have been obliged to acknowledge that my 
fallen nature got the better of me. In making that humil- 
iating confession / get the better of my fallen nature. The 
moral balance is restored ; the spiritual atmosphere feels clear 
once more. Dear friends, we may go on again. 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE signing of the will was a much shorter matter than 
I had anticipated. It was hurried over, to my thinking, 
in indecent haste. Samuel, the footman, was sent for to act 
as second witness — and the pen was put at once into my 
aunt's hand. I felt strongly urged to say a few appropriate 
words on this solemn occasion. But Mr. Bruff's manner 
convinced me that it was wisest to check the impulse while he 
was in the room. In less than two minutes it was all over — 
and Samuel, unbenefited by what I might have said, had 
gone down stairs again. 

Mr. Bruflf folded up the will, and then looked my way; 
apparently wondering whether I did, or did not, mean to 
leave him alone with my aunt. I had my mission of mercy 
to fulfill, and my bag of precious publications ready on my 

247 



THE MOONSTONE 

lap. He might as well have expected to move St. Paul's 
Cathedral by looking at it as to move me. There was one merit 
about him, due no doubt to his worldly training, which I have 
no wish to deny. He was quick at seeing things. I appeared 
to produce almost the same impression on him which I had 
produced on the cabman. He too uttered a profane expres- 
sion, and withdrew in a violent hurry, and left me mistress 
of the field. 

As soon as we were alone my aunt reclined on the sofa, 
and then alluded, with some appearance of confusion, to the 
subject of her will. 

'T hope you won't think yourself neglected, Drusilla," she 
said. "I mean to give you your little legacy, my dear, with 
my own hand." 

Here was a golden opportunity ! I seized it on the spot. 
In other words, I instantly opened my bag and took out the 
top publication. It proved to be an early edition — only the 
twenty-fifth — of the famous anonymous work, believed to be 
by precious Miss Bellows, entitled "The Serpent at Home." 
The design of the book — with which the worldly reader may 
not be acquainted — is to show how the Evil One lies in wait 
for us in all the most apparently innocent actions of our daily 
lives. The chapters best adapted to female perusal are, "Satan 
in the Hair-Brush" ; "Satan behind the Looking-Glass" ; 
"Satan under the Tea-Table" ; "Satan out of the Window" 
— and many others. 

"Give your attention, dear aunt, to this precious book — 
and you will give me all I ask." With those words, I handed 
it to her open, at a marked passage — one continuous burst 
of burning eloquence ! Subject : Satan among the Sofa- 
Cushions, 

Poor Lady Verinder, reclining thoughtlessly on her own 
sofa-cushions, glanced at the book, and handed it back to 
me looking more confused than ever. 

"I'm afraid, Drusilla," she said, "I must wait till I am a 
little better, before I can read that. The doctor — " 

The moment she mentioned the doctor's name I knew what 
was coming. Over and over again, in my past experience 
among my perishing fellow-creatures, the members of the 
notoriously infidel profession of Medicine had stepped be- 

248 



THE MOONSTONE 

tween me and my mission of mercy — on the miserable pre- 
tense that the patient wanted quiet, and that the disturbing 
influence of all others which they most dreaded, was the in- 
fluence of Miss Clack and her Books. Precisely the same 
blinded materialism, working treacherously behind my back, 
now sought to rob me of the only right of property that my 
poverty could claim — my right of spiritual property in my 
perishing aunt. 

"The doctor tells me," my poor misguided relative went 
on, "that I am not so well to-day. He forbids me to see 
any strangers ; and he orders me, if I read at all, only to 
read the lightest and the most amusing books. 'Do nothing. 
Lady Verinder, to weary your head, or to quicken your pulse' 
— those were his last words, Drusilla, when he left me to- 
day." 

There was no help for it but to yield again — for the mo- 
ment only, as before. Any open assertion of the infinitely 
superior importance of such a ministry as mine, compared 
with the ministry of the medical man, would only have pro- 
voked the doctor to practice on the human weakness of his 
patient, and to threaten to throw up the case. Happily, there 
are more ways than one of sowing the good seed, and few 
persons are better versed in those ways than myself. 

"You might feel stronger, dear, in an hour or two," I said. 
"Or you might wake to-morrow morning with a sense of 
something wanting and even this unpretending volume might 
be able to supply it. You will let me leave the book, aunt ? 
The doctor can hardly object to that!" 

I slipped it under the sofa-cushions, half in, half out, close 
by her handkerchief and smelling-bottle. Every time her 
hand searched for either of these it would touch the book ; 
and, sooner or later — who knows? — the book might touch 
her. After making this arrangement, I thought it wise to 
withdraw. "Let me leave you to repose, dear aunt ; I will 
call again to-morrow." I looked accidentally toward the 
window as I said that. It was full of flowers, in boxes and 
pots. Lady Verinder was extravagantly fond of these per- 
ishable treasures, and had a habit of rising every now and 
then, and going to look at them and smell them. A new 
idea flashed across my mind. "Oh! may I take a flower?" 

249 



THE MOONSTONE 

I said — and got to the window, unsuspected, in that way. 
Instead of taking away a flower I added one, in the shape 
of another book from my bag, which I left to surprise my 
aunt, among the geraniums and roses. The happy thought 
followed, "Why not do the same for her, poor dear, in every 
other room that she enters?" I immediately said good-bye; 
and, crossing the hall, slipped into the library. Samuel, com- 
ing up to let me out, and supposing I had gone, went down 
stairs again. On the library table I noticed two of the 
"amusing books" which the infidel doctor had recommended. 
I instantly covered them from sight with two of my own 
precious publications. In the breakfast-room I found my 
aunt's favorite canary singing in his cage. She was always 
in the habit of feeding the bird herself. Some groundsel was 
strewed on a table which stood immediately under the cage. 
I put a book among the groundsel. In the drawing-room I 
found more cheering opportunities of emptying my bag. My 
aunt's favorite musical pieces were on the piano. I slipped 
in two more books among the music. I disposed of another 
in the back drawing-room, under some unfinished embroid- 
ery, which I knew to be of Lady Verinder's working. A third 
little room opened out of the back drawing-room, from which 
it was shut oflf by a curtain instead of a door. My aunt's 
plain old-fashioned fan was on the chimney-piece. I opened 
my ninth book at a very special passage, and put the fan in 
as a marker, to keep the place. The question then came, 
whether I should go higher still, and try the bedroom floor — 
at the risk, undoubtedly, of being insulted, if the person with 
the cap-ribbons happened to be in the upper regions of the 
house, and to find me out. But oh, what of that? It is a 
poor Christian that is afraid of being insulted. I went up 
stairs, prepared to bear any thing. All was silent and solitary 
— it was the servants' tea-time, I suppose. IMy aunt's room 
was in front. The miniature of my late dear uncle. Sir John, 
hung on the wall opposite the bed. It seemed to smile at 
me ; it seemed to say, "Drusilla ! deposit a book." There were 
tables on either side of my aunt's bed. She was a bad sleeper, 
and wanted, or thought she wanted, many things at night. 
I put a book near the matches on one side, and a book under 
the box of chocolate drops on the other. Whether she wanted 

250 



THE MOONSTONE 

a light, or whether she wanted a drop, there was a precious 
publication to meet her eye, or to meet her hand, and to say 
with silent eloquence, in either case, "Come, try me ! try me !" 
But one book was now left at the bottom of my bag, and but 
one apartment was still unexplored — the bath-room, which 
opened out of the bedroom. I peeped in ; and the holy inner 
voice that never deceives whispered to me, "You have met 
her, Drusilla, everywhere else ; meet her at the bath, and the 
work is done." I observed a dressing-gown thrown across a 
chair. It had a pocket in it, and in that pocket I put my last 
book. Can words express my requisite sense of duty done, 
when I had slipped out of the house, unsuspected by any of 
them, and when I found myself in the street with my empty 
bag under my arm? Oh, my worldly friends, pursuing the 
phantom, Pleasure, through the guilty mazes of Dissipation, 
how easy it is to be happy, if you will only be good ! 

When I folded up my things that night — when I reflected 
on the true riches which I had scattered with such a lavish 
hand, from top to bottom of the house of my wealthy aunt — 
I declare I felt as free from all anxiety as if I had been a 
child again. I was so light-hearted that I sang a verse of 
the Evening Hymn. I was so light-hearted that I fell asleep 
before I could sing another. Quite like a child again ! quite 
like a child again ! 

So I passed that blissful night. On rising the next morn- 
ing how young I felt ! I might add, how young I looked, if 
I were capable of dwelling on the concerns of my own per- 
ishable body. But I am not capable — and I add nothing. 

Toward luncheon-time — not for the sake of the creature- 
comforts, but for the certainty of finding dear aunt — I put 
on my bonnet to go to Montagu Square. Just as I was 
ready the maid at the lodgings in which I then lived put her 
head in at the door, and said, "Lady Verinder's servant, to 
see Miss Clack." 

I occupied the parlor floor at that period of my residence 
in London. The front parlor was my sitting-room. Very 
small, very low in the ceiling, very poorly furnished — but 
oh, so neat ! I looked into the passage to see which of Lady 
Verinder's servants had asked for me. It was the young 
footman, Samuel — a civil, fresh-colored person, with a teach- 

251 



THE MOONSTONE 

able look and a very obliging manner. I had always felt a 
spiritual interest in Samuel, and a wish to try him with a few 
serious words. On this occasion I invited him into my sitting- 
room. 

He came in, with a large parcel under his arm. When he 
put the parcel down it appeared to frighten him. "My lady's 
love, miss ; and I was to say that you would find a letter 
inside." Having given that message, the fresh-colored young 
footman surprised me by looking as if he would have liked 
to run away. 

I detained him to make a few kind inquiries. Could I see 
my aunt, if I called in Montagu Square ? No : she had gone 
out for a drive. Miss Rachel had gone with her, and Mr. 
Ablewhite had taken a seat in the carriage too. Knowing 
how sadly dear Mr. Godfrey's charitable work was in arrear, 
I thought it odd that he should be going out driving, like 
an idle man. I stopped Samuel at the door, and made a few 
more kind inquiries. Miss Rachel was going to a ball that 
night, and Mr. Ablewhite had arranged to come to coffee 
and go with her. There was a morning concert advertised 
for to-morrow, and Samuel was ordered to take places for a 
large party, including a place for Mr. Ablewhite. "All the 
tickets may be gone, miss," said this innocent youth, "if I 
don't run and get them at once !" He ran as he said the 
words and I found myself alone again, with some anxious 
thoughts to occupy me. 

We had a special meeting of the Mothers'-Small-Clothes- 
Conversion-Society that night, summoned expressly with a 
view to obtaining Mr. Godfrey's advice and assistance. In- 
stead of sustaining our sisterhood, under an overwhelming 
flow of trousers which had quite prostrated our little com- 
munity, he had arranged to take cofiPee in Montagu Square, 
and to go to a ball afterward ! The afternoon of the next 
day had been selected for the Festival of the British-Ladies'- 
Servants'-Sunday-Sweetheart-Supervision-Societv. Instead of 
being present, the life and soul of that struggling Institu- 
tion, he had engaged to make one of a party of worldlings 
at a morning concert! I asked myself, What did it mean? 
Alas ! it meant that our Christian Hero was to reveal him- 
self to me in a new character, and to become associated in 

252 



THE MOONSTONE 

my mind with one of tlie most awful backslidings of modern 
times. 

To return, however, to the history of the passing day. 
On finding myself alone in my room, I naturally turned my 
attention to the parcel which appeared to have so strangely 
intimidated the fresh-colored young footman. Had my aunt 
sent me my promised legacy? and had it taken the form of 
cast-ofif clothes, or worn-out silver spoons, or unfashionable 
jewelry, or any thing of that sort? Prepared to accept all, 
and to resent nothing, I opened the parcel — and what met 
my view ? The twelve precious publications which I had scat- 
tered through the house on the previous day ; all returned to 
me by the doctor's orders ! Well might the youthful Samuel 
shrink when he brought his parcel into my room ! Well might 
he run when he had performed his miserable errand ! As to 
my aunt's letter, it simply amounted, poor soul, to this — that 
she dare not disobey her medical man. 

What was to be done now? With my training and my 
principles, I never had a moment's doubt. 

Once self-supported by conscience, once embarked on a 
career of manifest usefulness, the true Christian never yields. 
Neither public nor private influences produce the slightest 
effect on us, when we have once got our mission. Taxation 
may be the consequence of a mission ; riots may be the con- 
sequence of a mission ; wars may be the consequence of a 
mission : we go on with our work, irrespective of every human 
consideration which moves the world outside us. We are 
above reason ; we are beyond ridicule ; we see with nobody's 
eyes, we hear with nobody's ears, we feel with nobody's 
hearts but our own. Glorious, glorious privilege ! And how 
is it earned? Ah, my friends, you may spare yourselves the 
useless inquiry ! We are the only people who can earn it — 
for we are the only people who are always right. 

In the case of my misguided aunt, the form which pious 
perseverance was next to take revealed itself to me plainly 
enough. 

Preparation by clerical friends had failed, owing to Lady 
Verinder's own reluctance. Preparation by books had failed, 
owing to the doctor's infidel obstinacy. So be it ! What 
was the next thing to try? The next thing to try was — 

253 



THE MOONSTONE 

preparation by little notes. In other words, the books them- 
selves having been sent back, select extracts from the books, 
copied by different hands, and all addressed as letters to my 
aunt, were, some to be sent by post, and some to be distrib- 
uted about the house on the plan I had adopted on the pre- 
vious day. As letters they would excite no suspicion ; as 
letters they would be opened — and, once opened, might be 
read. Some of them I wrote myself. "Dear aunt, may I 
ask your attention to a few lines?" etc. "Dear aunt, I was 
reading last night, and I chanced on the following passage," 
etc. Other letters were written for me, by my valued fellow- 
workers, the sisterhood at the Mothers'-Srnall-Clothes. "Dear 
madam, pardon the interest taken in you by a true, though 
humble, friend." "Dear madam, may a serious person sur- 
prise you by saying a few cheering words ?" Using these and 
other similar forms of courteous appeal, we reintroduced all 
my precious passages under a form which not even the doc- 
tor's watchful materialism could suspect. Before the shades 
of evening had closed around us I had a dozen awakening 
letters for my aunt, instead of a dozen awakening books. 
Six I made immediate arrangements for sending through the 
post, and six I kept in my pocket for personal distribution 
in the house the next day. 

Soon after two o'clock I was again on the field of pious 
conflict, addressing more kind inquiries to Samuel at Lady 
Verinder's door. 

My aunt had had a bad night. She was again in the room 
in which I had witnessed her will, resting on the sofa, and 
trying to get a little sleep. I said I would wait in the library, 
on the chance of seeing her. In the fervor of my zeal to 
distribute the letters, it never occurred to me to inquire about 
Rachel. The house was quiet, and it was past the hour at 
which the musical performance began. I took it for granted 
that she and her party of pleasure-seekers — Mr. Godfrey, 
alas ! included — were all at the concert, and eagerly devoted 
myself to my good work, while time and opportunity were 
still at my own disposal. 

My aunt's correspondence of the morning — including the 
six awakening letters which I had posted overnight — was 
lying unopened on the library table. She had evidently not 

254 



THE AlOONSTONE 

felt herself equal to dealing with a large mass of letters — 
and she might be daunted by the number of them, if she 
entered the library later in the day. I put one of my second 
set of six letters on the chimney-piece by itself; leaving it 
to attract her curiosity, by means of its solitary position, apart 
from the rest, A second letter I put purposely on the floor 
in the breakfast-room. The first servant who went in after 
me would conclude that my aunt had dropped it, and would 
be specially careful to restore it to her. The field thus sown 
on the basement story, I ran lightly up stairs to scatter my 
mercies next over the drawing-room floor. 

Just as I entered the front-room I heard a double knock 
at the street door — a soft, fluttering, considerate little knock. 
Before I could think of slipping back to the library, in which 
I was supposed to be waiting, the active young footman was 
in the hall, answering the door. It mattered little, as I 
thought. In my aunt's state of health visitors in general 
were not admitted. To my horror and amazement the per- 
former of the soft little knock proved to be an exception to 
general rules. Samuel's voice below me (after apparently 
answering some questions which I did not hear) said, unmis- 
takably, "Up stairs, if you please, sir." The next moment I 
heard footsteps — a man's footsteps — approaching the draw- 
ing-room floor. Who could this favored male visitor possibly 
be? Almost as soon as I asked myself the question the an- 
swer occurred to me. Who could it be but the doctor? 

In the case of any other visitor I should have allowed my- 
self to be discovered in the drawing-room. There would 
have been nothing out of the common in my having got tired 
of the library, and having gone up stairs for a change. But 
my own self-respect stood in the way of my meeting the per- 
son who had insulted me by sending me back my books. I 
slipped into the little third room, which I have mentioned as 
communicating with the back drawing-room, and dropped 
the curtains which closed the open door-way. If I only waited 
there for a minute or two, the usual result in such cases would 
take place. That is to say, the doctor would be conducted 
to his patient's room. 

I waited a minute or two, and more than a minute or two. 
I heard the visitor walking restlessly backward and forward. 

255 



THE MOONSTONE 

I also heard him talking to himself. I even thought I recog- 
nized the voice. Had I made a mistake? Was it not the 
doctor, but somebody else ? Mr. Bruff, for instance? No ! an 
unerring instinct told me it was not Mr. Bruff. Whoever he 
was, he was still talking to himself. I parted the heavy cur- 
tains the least little morsel in the world, and listened. 

The words I heard were, "I'll do it to-day !" And the voice 
that spoke them was Mr, Godfrey Ablewhite's. 



CHAPTER V. 



MY hand dropped from the curtain. But don't suppose — 
oh, don't suppose — that the dreadful embarrassment of 
my situation was the uppermost idea in my mind ! So fervent 
still was the sisterly interest I felt in Mr. Godfrey that I 
never stopped to ask myself why he was not at the concert. 
No ! I thought only of the words — the startling words — which 
had just fallen from his lips. He would do it to-day. He 
had said, in a tone of terrible resolution, he would do it to- 
day. What, oh what, would he do ! Something even more 
deplorably unworthy of him than what he had done already? 
Would he apostatize from the faith? Would he abandon us 
at the Mothers'-Small-Clothes ? Had we seen the last of his 
angelic smile in the committee-room? Had we heard the 
last of his unrivaled eloquence at Exeter Hall? I was so 
wrought up by the bare idea of such awful eventualities as 
these, in connection with such a man, that I believe I should 
have rushed from my place of concealment, and implored him 
in the name of all the Ladies' Committees in London to ex- 
plain himself — when I suddenly heard another voice in the 
room. It penetrated through the curtains ; it was loud, it 
was bold, it was wanting in every female charm. The voice 
of Rachel Verinder ! 

"Why have you come up here, Godfrey ?" she asked. "Why 
didn't you go into the library?" 

He laughed softlv, and answered, "Miss Clack is in the 
library." 

"Clack in the library!" She instantly seated herself on 

2:;6 



THE MOONSTONE 

the ottoman in the back drawing-room. "You are quite right, 
Godfrey. We had much better stop here." 

I had been in a burning fever a moment since, and in some 
doubt what to do next. I became extremely cold now, and 
felt no doubt whatever. To show myself after what I had 
heard, was impossible. To retreat — except into the fire-place 
— was equally out of the question. A martyrdom was before 
me. In justice to myself, I noiselessly arranged the curtains 
so that I could both see and hear. And then I met my 
martyrdom with the spirit of a primitive Christian. 

"Don't sit on the ottoman," the young lady proceeded. 
"Bring a chair, Godfrey. I like people to be opposite to me 
when I talk to them." 

He took the nearest seat. It was a low chair. He was 
very tall, and many sizes too large for it. I never saw his 
legs to such disadvantage before. 

"Well?" she went on. "What did you say to them?" 

"Just what you said, dear Rachel, to me." 

"That mamma was not at all well to-day? And that I 
didn't quite like leaving her to go to the concert?" 

"Those were the words. They were grieved to lose you 
at the concert, but they quite understood. All sent their love ; 
and all expressed a cheering belief that Lady Verinder's in- 
disposition would soon pass away." 

"Yoii don't think it's serious, do you, Godfrey?" 

"Far from it ! In a few days, I feel quite sure, all will be 
well again." 

"I think so too. I was a little frightened at first, but I 
think so too. It was very kind to go and make my excuses 
for me to people who are almost strangers to you. But why 
not have gone with them to the concert ? It seems very hard 
that you should miss the music, too." 

"Don't say that, Rachel ! If you only knew how much 
happier I am — here, with you !" 

He clasped his hands, and looked at her. In the position 
which he occupied, when he did that, he turned my way. 
Can words describe how I sickened when I noticed exactly 
the same pathetic expression on his face, which had charmed 
me when he was pleading for destitute millions of his fellow- 
creatures on the platform dt Exeter Hall ! 

17 257 



THE MOONSTONE 

"It's hard to get over one's bad habits, Godfrey. But do 
try to get over the habit of paying compliments — do, to 
please me." 

'T never paid yoti a compliment, Rachel, in my life. Suc- 
cessful love may sometimes use the language of flattery, I 
admit. But hopeless love, dearest, always speaks the truth." 

He drew his chair close, and took her hand, when he said 
"hopeless love." There was a momentary silence. He who 
thrilled every body had doubtless thrilled her. I thought I 
now understood the words which had dropped from him 
when he was alone in the drawing-room. "I'll do it to-day." 
Alas ! the most rigid propriety could hardly have failed to 
discover that he was doing it now. 

"Have you forgotten what we agreed on, Godfrey, when 
you spoke to me in the country? We agreed that we were 
to be cousins, and nothing more." 

"I break the agreement, Rachel, every time I see you." 

"Then don't see me." 

"Quite useless ! I break the agreement every time I think 
of you. Oh, Rachel ! how kindly you told me, only the other 
day, that my place in your estimation was a higher place 
than it had ever been yet ! Am I mad to build the hopes I 
do on those dear words ? Am I mad to dream of some future 
dav when your heart may soften to me? Don't tell me so, 
if I am ! Leave me my delusion, dearest ! I must have that 
to cherish and to comfort me, if I have nothing else !" 

His voice trembled, and he put his white handkerchief to 
his eyes. Exeter Hall again ! Nothing wanting to complete 
the parallel but the audience, the cheers, and the glass of 
water. 

Even her obdurate nature was touched. I saw her lean a 
little nearer to him. I heard a new tone of interest in her 
next words. 

"Are you really sure, Godfrey, that you are as fond of me 
as that?" 

"Sure! You know what I was, Rachel. Let me tell you 
what I am. I have lost every interest in life, but my interest 
in you. A transformation has come over me which I can't 
account for, myself. Would you believe it? My charitable 
business is an unendurable nuisance to me; and when I see 

258 



THE MOONSTONE 

a Ladies' Committee now, I wish myself at the uttermost 
ends of the earth !" 

If the annals of apostasy ofifer any thing comparable to 
such a declaration as that, I can only say that the case in 
point is not producible from the stores of my reading. I 
thought of the Mothers'-Small-Clothes. I thought of the 
Sunday-Sweetheart-Supervision. I thought of the other So- 
cieties, too numerous to mention, all built up on this man a3 
on a tower of strength. I thought of the struggling Female 
Boards, who, so to speak, drew the breath of their business- 
life through the nostrils of Mr. Godfrey — of that same Mr. 
Godfrey who had just reviled our good work as a "nuisance" 
— and just declared that he wished he was at the uttermost 
ends of the earth when he found himself in our company ! 
My young female friends will feel encouraged to persevere, 
when I mention that it tried even my discipline before I 
could devour my own righteous indignation in silence. At 
the same time, it is only justice to myself to add, that I didn't 
lose a syllable of the conversation. Rachel was the next to 
speak. 

"You have made your confession," she said. 'T wonder 
whether it would cure you of your unhappy attachment to 
me, if I made mine?" 

He started. I confess I started too. He thought, and I 
thought, that she was about to divulge the mystery of the 
Moonstone. 

"Would you think, to look at me," she went on, "that I 
am the wretchedest girl living? It's true, Godfrey. What 
greater wretchedness can there be than to live degraded in 
your own estimation ? That is my life now." 

"My dear Rachel ! it's impossible you can have any reason 
to speak of yourself in that way !" 

"How do you know I have no reason ?" 

"Can you ask me the question ! I know it, because I know 
yon. Your silence, dearest, has never lowered you in 
the estimation of your true friends. The disappearance 
of your precious birthday gift may seem strange ; your 
unexplained connection with that event mav seem stranger 
still—" 

"Are you speaking of the Moonstone, Godfrey?" 

259 



THE MOONSTONE 

"I certainly thought that you referred — " 

"I referred to nothing of the sort. I can hear of the loss 
of the Moonstone, let who will speak of it, without feeling 
degraded in my own estimation. If the story of the Dia- 
mond ever comes to light, it will be known that I accepted 
a dreadful responsibility ; it will be known that I involved 
myself in the keeping of a miserable secret — but it will be 
as clear as the sun at noonday that I did nothing mean ! 
You have misunderstood me, Godfrey. It's my fault for not 
speaking more plainly. Cost me what it may, I will be plainer 
now. Suppose you were not in love with me? Suppose you 
were in love with some other woman?" 

"Yes?" 

"Suppose you discovered that woman to be utterly un- 
worthy of you? Suppose you were quite convinced that it 
was a disgrace to you to waste another thought on her? 
Suppose the bare idea of ever marrying such a person made 
your face burn, only with thinking of it?" 

"Yes?" 

"And, suppose, in spite of all that — you couldn't tear her 
from your heart? Suppose the feeling she had roused in 
you, in the time when you believed in her, was a feeling not 
to be hidden? Suppose the love this wretch had inspired in 
you — ? Oh, how can I find words to say it in! How can I 
make a man understand that a feeling which horrifies me at 
myself can be a feeling that fascinates me at the same time? 
It's the breath of my life, Godfrey, and it's the poison that 
kills me — both in one ! Go away ! I must be out of my mind 
to talk as I am talking now. No ! you mustn't leave me — 
you mustn't carry away a wrong impression. I must say 
what is to be said in my own defense. Mind this ! He 
doesn't know — he never will know, what I have told you. 
I will never see him — I don't care what happens — I will 
never, never, never see him again ! Don't ask me his name ! 
Don't ask me any more! Let's change the subject. Are you 
doctor enough, Godfrey, to tell me why I feel as if I was 
stifling for want of breath ? Is there a form of hysterics that 
bursts into words instead of tears ? I dare say ! What does 
it matter? You will get over any trouble I have caused you, 
easily enough now. I have dropped to my right place in your 

260 



THE MOONSTONE 

estimation, haven't I ? Don't notice me ! Don't pity me ! 
For God's sake, go away!" 

She turned round on a sudden, and beat her hands wildly 
on the back of the ottoman. Her head dropped on the cush- 
ions ; and she burst out crying. Before I had time to feel 
shocked at this, I was horror-struck by an entirely unex- 
pected proceeding on the part of Mr. Godfrey. Will it be 
credited that he fell on his knees at her feet? — on both 
knees, I solemnly declare ! May modesty mention that he put 
his arms round her next? And may reluctant admiration 
acknowledge that he electrified her with two words? 

"Noble creature !" 

No more than that! But he did it with one of the bursts 
which have made his fame as a public speaker. She sat, 
either quite thunderstruck, or quite fascinated — I don't know 
which — without even making an effort to put his arms back 
where his arms ought to have been. As for me, my sense 
of propriety was completely bewildered. I was so painfully 
uncertain whether it was my first duty to close my eyes, or 
to stop my ears, that I did neither. I attribute my being still 
able to hold the curtain in the right position for looking and 
listening, entirely to suppressed hysterics. In suppressed 
hysterics, it is admitted even by the doctors, that one must 
hold something. 

"Yes," he said, with all the fascination of his evangelical 
voice and manner, "you are a noble creature! A woman 
who can speak the truth, for the truth's own sake — a woman 
who will sacrifice her pride, rather than sacrifice an honest 
man who loves her — is the most priceless of all treasures. 
When such a woman marries, if her husband only wins her 
esteem and regard, he wins enough to ennoble his whole life. 
You have spoken, dearest, of your place in my estimation. 
Judge what that place is — when I implore you on my knees, 
to let the cure of your poor wounded heart be my care. 
Rachel ! will you honor me, will you bless me, by being my 
wife?" 

By this time I should certainly have decided on stopping 
my ears, if Rachel had not encouraged me to keep them 
open, by answering him in the first sensible words I had ever 
heard fall from her lips. 

261 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Godfrey!" she said, "you must be mad!" 

"I never spoke more reasonably, dearest — in your interests, 
as well as in mine. Look for a moment to the future. Is 
your happiness to be sacrificed to a man who has never known 
how you feel toward him, and whom you are resolved never 
to see again? Is it not your duty to yourself to forget this 
ill-fated attachment? and is forgetfulness to be found in the 
life you are leading now? You have tried that life, and you 
are wearying of it already. Surround yourself with nobler 
interests than the wretched interests of the world. A heart 
that loves and honors you ; a home whose peaceful claims and 
happy duties win gently on you day by day — try the conso- 
lation, Rachel, which is to be found there! I don't ask for 
your love — I will be content with your affection and regard. 
Let the rest be left, confidently left, to your husband's devo- 
tion, and to Time, that heals even wounds as deep as yours." 

She began to yield already. Oh, what a bringing-up she 
must have had ! Oh, how differently I should have acted in 
her place ! 

"Don't tempt me, Godfrey," she said ; "I am wretched 
enough and reckless enough as it is. Don't tempt me to be 
more wretched and more reckless still !" 

"One question, Rachel. Have you any personal objection 
to me?" 

"I ! I always liked you. After what you have just said 
to me, I should be insensible indeed if I didn't respect and 
admire you as well." 

"Do you know many wives, my dear Rachel, who respect 
and admire their husbands? And yet they and their hus- 
bands get on very well. How many brides go to the altar 
with hearts that would bear inspection by the men who take 
them there? And yet it doesn't end unhappily — somehow or 
other the nuptial establishment jogs on. The truth is, that 
women try marriage as a refuge, far more numerously than 
they are willing to admit ; and, what is more, they find that 
marriage has justified their confidence in it. Look at your 
own case once again. At your age, and with your attractions, 
is it possible for you to sentence yourself to a single life? 
Trust my knowledge of the world — nothing is less possible. 
It is merely a question of time. You may marry some other 

262 



THE MOONSTONE 

man, some years hence. Or you may marry the man, dearest, 
who is now at your feet, and who prizes your respect and 
admiration above the love of any other woman on the face 
of the earth." 

"Gently, Godfrey ! you are putting something into my head 
which I never thought of before. You are tempting me with 
a new prospect, when all my other prospects are closed before 
me. I tell you again, I am miserable enough and desperate 
enough, if you say another word, to marry you on your own 
terms. Take the warning, and go !" 

'T won't even rise from my knees till you have said yes !" 

"If I say yes you will repent, and I shall repent when it is 
too late!" 

"We shall both bless the day, darling, when I pressed, and 
when you yielded." 

"Do you feel as confidently as you speak?" 

"You shall judge for yourself. I speak from what I have 
seen in my own family. Tell me what you think of our house- 
hold at Frizinghall. Do my father and mother live unhappily 
together ?" 

"Far from it — so far as I can see." 

"When my mother was a girl, Rachel, it is no secret in 
the family, she had loved as you love — she had given her 
heart to a man who was unworthy of her. She married my 
father, respecting him, admiring him, but nothing more. 
Your own eyes have seen the result. Is there no encourage- 
ment in it for you and for me?"^ 

"You won't hurry me, Godfrey?" 

"My time shall be yours." 

"You won't ask me for more than I can give?" 

"My angel ! I onlv ask you to give me vourself." 

"Take me !" 

In those two words she accepted him ! 

He had another burst — a burst of unholy rapture this time. 
He drew her nearer and nearer to him till her face touched 
his; and then — No! I really can not prevail upon myself 
to carry this shocking disclosure any farther. Let me only 
say that I tried to close my eyes before it happened, and that 
I was just one moment too late. I had calculated, you see, 

^ See Betteredge's Narrative. Chapter VIII., page 68, 
263 



THE MOONSTONE 

on her resisting. She submitted. To every right-feeling per- 
son of my own sex volumes could say no more. 

Even my innocence in such matters began to see its way 
to the end of the interview now. They understood each 
other so thoroughly by this time that I fully expected to see 
them walk off together, arm in arm, to be married. There 
appeared, however, judging by Mr. Godfrey's next words, to 
be one more trifling formality which it was necessary to ob- 
serve. He seated himself — unforbidden this time — on the 
ottoman by her side. "Shall I speak to your dear mother?" 
he asked. "Or will you?" 

She declined both alternatives. 

"Let my mother hear nothing from either of us until she 
is better. I wish it to be kept a secret for the present, God- 
frey. Go now, and come back this evening. We have been 
here alone together quite long enough." 

She rose, and, in rising, looked for the first time toward 
the little room in which my martyrdom was going on. 

"Who has drawn those curtains?" she exclaimed. "The 
room is close enough as it is, without keeping the air out of 
it in that way." 

She advanced to the curtains. At the moment when she 
laid her hand on them — at the moment when the discovery 
of me appeared to be quite inevitable — the voice of the fresh- 
colored young footman, on the stairs, suddenly suspended 
any further proceedings on her side or on mine. It was un- 
mistakably the voice of a man in great alarm. 

"Miss Rachel !" he called out, "where are vou. Miss 
Rachel?" 

She sprang back from the curtains and ran to the door. 

The footman came just inside the room. His ruddy color 
was all gone. He said, "Please come down stairs, miss ! My 
lady has fainted, and we can't bring her to again." 

In a moment more I was alone, and free to go down stairs 
in my turn, quite unobserved. 

Mr. Godfrey passed me in the hall, hurrying out, to fetch 
the doctor. "Go in, and help them !" he said, pointing to the 
room. I found Rachel on her knees by the sofa, with her 
mother's head on her bosom. One look at my aunt's face, 
knowing what I knew, was enough to warn me of the dread- 

264 



THE MOONSTOxNE 

ful truth. I kept my thoughts to myself till the doctor came 
in. It was not long before he arrived. He began by sending 
Rachel out of the room — and then he told the rest of us 
that Lady Verinder was no more. Serious persons, in search 
of proofs of hardened skepticism, may be interested in hear- 
ing that he showed no signs of remorse when he looked at me. 
At a later hour I peeped into the breakfast-room and the 
library. My aunt had died without opening one of the let- 
ters which I had addressed to her. I was so shocked at this 
that it never occurred to me, until some days afterward, that 
she had also died without giving me my little legacy. 



CHAPTER VI. 

(i.) "Miss Clack presents her compliments to Mr. Frank- 
lin Blake ; and. in sending him the fifth chapter of her 
humble narrative, begs to say that she feels quite unequal to 
enlarge as she could wish on an event so awful, under the 
circumstances, as Lady Verinder's death. She has, therefore, 
attached to her own manuscript copious Extracts from pre- 
cious publications in her possession, all bearing on this terrible 
subject. And may those Extracts, Miss Clack fervently 
hopes, sound as the blast of a trumpet in the ears of her 
respected kinsman, Mr. Franklin Blake." 

(2.) "Mr. Franklin Blake presents his compliments to Miss 
Clack, and begs to thank her for the fifth chapter of her 
narrative. In returning the extracts sent with it, he will re- 
frain from mentioning any personal objection which he may 
entertain to this species of literature, and will merely say that 
the proposed additions to the manuscript are not necessary 
to the fulfillment of the purpose that he has in view." 

(3.) "Miss Clack begs to acknowledge the return of her 
Extracts. She afifectionately reminds ]\Tr. Franklin Blake 
that she is a Christian, and that it is, therefore, quite impos- 
sible for him to ofifend her. Miss C. persists in feeling the 
deepest interest in Mr. Blake, and pledges herself, on the 
first occasion when sickness may lay him low, to oflfer him 
the use of her Extracts for the second time. In the mean 

265 



THE MOONSTONE 

while she would be glad to know, before beginning the next 
and last chapter of her narrative, whether she may be per- 
mitted to make her humble contribution complete by availing 
herself of the light which later discoveries have thrown on 
the mystery of the Moonstone." 

(4.) "Mr. Franklin Blake is sorry to disappoint Miss Clack, 
He can only repeat the instructions which he had the honor 
of giving her when she began her narrative. She is requested 
to limit herself to her own individual experience of persons 
and events, as recorded in her Diary. Later discoveries she 
will be good enough to leave to the pens of those persons 
who can write in the capacity of actual witnesses." 

(5.) "Miss Clack is extremely sorry to trouble Mr. Frank- 
lin Blake with another letter. Her Extracts have been 
returned, and the expression of her matured views on the 
subject of the Moonstone has been forbidden. Miss Clack 
is painfully conscious that she ought, in the worldly phrase, 
to feel herself put down. But, no — Miss C. has learned Per- 
severance in the School of Adversity. Her object in writing 
is to know whether Mr. Blake, who prohibits every thing 
else, prohibits the appearance of the present correspondence 
in Miss Clack's narrative? Some explanation of the position 
in which Mr. Blake's interference has placed her as an 
authoress, seems due on the ground of common justice. And 
Miss Clack, on her side, is most anxious that her letters 
should be produced to speak for themselves." 

(6.) "Mr. Franklin Blake agrees to Miss Clack's proposal, 
on the understanding that she will kindly consider this inti- 
mation of his consent as closing the correspondence between 
them." 

(7.) "Miss Clack feels it an act of Christian duty, before 
the correspondence closes, to inform Mr. Franklin Blake that 
his last letter — evidently intended to ofifend her — has not suc- 
ceeded in accomplishing the object of the writer. She affec- 
tionately requests Mr. Blake to retire to the privacy of his 
own room, and to consider with himself whether the training 
which can thus elevate a poor weak woman above the reach 
of insult, be not worthy of greater admiration than he is now 
disposed to feel for it. On being favored with an intimation 
to that effect. Miss C. solemnly pledges herself to send 

266 



THE MOONSTONE 

back the complete series of her Extracts to Mr. Franklin 
Blake." 

[To this letter no answer was received. Comment is 
needless. 

(Signed) Drusilla Clack.] 



CHAPTER VH. 

THE foregoing- correspondence will sufficiently explain 
why no choice is left me but to pass over Lady Verin- 
der's death with the simple announcement of the fact, which 
ends my fifth chapter. 

Keeping myself .for the future strictly within the limits 
of my own personal experience, I have next to relate that a 
month elapsed from the time of my aunt's decease before 
Rachel Verinder and I met again. That meeting was the oc- 
casion of my spending a few days under the same roof with 
her. In the course of my visit something happened, relating 
to her marriage engagement with Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite, 
which is important enough to require special notice in these 
pages. When this last of many painful family circumstances 
has been disclosed, my task will be completed ; for I shall then 
have told all that I know, as an actual, and most unwilling, 
witness of events. 

My aunt's remains were removed from London, and were 
buried in the little cemetery attached to the church in her 
own park, I was invited to the funeral with the rest of the 
family. But it was impossible, with my religious views, to 
rouse myself in a few days only from the shock which this 
death had caused me. I was informed, moreover, that the 
rector of Frizinghall was to read the service. Having myself 
in past times seen this clerical castaway making one of the 
players at Lady Verinder's whist-table, I doubt, even if I had 
been fit to travel, whether I should have felt justified in at- 
tending the ceremony. 

Lady Verinder's death left her daughter under the care of 
her brother-in-law, Mr. Ablewhite the elder. He was ap- 
pointed guardian by the will, until his niece married, or came 

267 



THE MOONSTONE 

of age. Under those circumstances, Mr. Godfrey informed 
his father, I suppose, of the new relation in which he stood 
toward Rachel. At any rate, in ten days from my aunt's 
death, the secret of the marriage engagement was no secret 
at all within the circle of the family, and the grand question 
for Mr. Ablewhite senior — another confirmed castaway ! — was 
how to make himself and his authority most agreeable to the 
wealthy young lady who was going to marry his son. 

Rachel gave him some trouble, at the outset, about the 
choice of a place in which she could be prevailed upon to 
reside. The house in Montagu Square was associated with 
the calamity of her mother's death. The house in Yorkshire 
was associated with the scandalous affair of the lost Moon- 
stone. Her guardian's own residence at Frizinghall was open 
to neither of these objections. But Rachel's presence in it, 
after her recent bereavement, operated as a check on the 
gayeties of her cousins, the Miss Ablewhites — and she herself 
requested that her visit might be deferred to a more favorable 
©pportunity. It ended in a proposal, emanating from old ]\Ir. 
Ablewhite, to try a furnished house at Brighton. His wife, 
an invalid daughter, and Rachel were to inhabit it together, 
and were to expect him to join them later in the season. 
They would see no society but a few old friends, and they 
would have his son Godfrey, traveling backward and forward 
by the London train, always at their disposal. 

I describe this aimless flitting about from one place of resi- 
dence to another — this insatiate restlessness of body and ap- 
palling stagnation of soul — merely with a view of arriving at 
results. The event which, under Providence, proved to be the 
means of bringing Rachel Verinder and myself together 
again, was no other than the hiring of the house at Brighton. 

My Aunt Ablewhite is a large, silent, fair-complexioned 
woman, with one noteworthy point in her character. From 
the hour of her birth she has never been known to do any 
thing for herself. She has gone through life accepting every 
body's help, and adopting every body's opinions. A more 
hopeless person, in a spiritual point of view. I have never 
met with — there is absolutely, in this perplexing case, no ob- 
structive material to work upon. Aunt Ablewhite would 
listen to the Grand Lama of Thibet exactly as she listens to 

268 



THE MOONSTONE 

me, and would reflect his views quite as readily as she re- 
flects mine. She found the furnished house at Brighton by 
stopping at a hotel in London, composing herself on a sofa, 
and sending for her son. She discovered the necessary ser- 
vants by breakfasting in bed one morning, still at the hotel, 
and giving her maid a holiday on condition that the girl 
"would begin enjoying herself by fetching Miss Clack." I 
found her placidly fanning herself in her dressing-gown at 
eleven o'clock. "Drusilla, dear,' I want some servants. You 
are so clever — please get them for me." I looked round the 
untidy room. The church bells were going for a week-day 
service ; they suggested a word of affectionate remonstrance 
on my part. "Oh, aunt !" I said, sadly, "is this worthy of 
a Christian Englishwoman ? Is the passage from time to 
eternity to be made in this manner?" My aunt answered, 
"I'll put on my gown, Drusilla, if you will be kind enough 
to help me." What was to be said after that? I have done 
wonders with murderesses — I have never advanced an inch 
with Aunt Ablewhite. "Where is the list," I asked, "of the 
servants whom you require ?" My aunt shook her head ; she 
hadn't even energy enough to keep the list. "Rachel has got 
it, dear,"' she said, "in the next room." I went into the next 
room, and so saw Rachel again, for the first time since we 
had parted in Montagu Square. 

She looked pitiably small and thin in her deep mourning. 
If I attached any serious importance to such a perishable 
trifle as personal appearance, I might be inclined to add that 
hers was one of those unfortunate complexions which always 
suffers when not relieved by a border of white next the skin. 
But what are our complexions and our looks? Hinderances 
and pitfalls, dear girls, which beset us on our way to higher 
things ! Greatly to my surprise, Rachel rose when I entered the 
room, and came forward to meet me with outstretched hand. 

"I am glad to see you," she said. "Drusilla, I have been 
in the habit of speaking very foolishly and very rudely to 
you, on former occasions. I beg your pardon. I hope you 
will forgive me." 

My face, I suppose, betrayed the astonishment I felt at this. 
She colot^'=''^ up for a moment, and then proceeded to explain 
herself. 

369 



THE MOONSTONE 

"In my poor mother's lifetime," she went on, "her friends 
were not always my friends too. Now I have lost her, my 
heart turns for comfort to the people she liked. She liked 
you. Try to be friends with me, Drusilla, if you can." 

To any rightly-constituted mind the motive thus acknow- 
ledged was simply shocking. Here in Christian England 
was a young woman in a state of bereavement, with so little 
idea of where to look for true comfort, that she actually ex- 
pected to find it among her mother's friends ! Here was a 
relative of mine, awakened to a sense of her shortcomings 
toward others, under the influence, not of conviction and duty, 
but of sentiment and impulse ! Most deplorable to think of 
— but still, suggestive of something hopeful, to a person of 
my experience in plying the good work. There could be no 
harm, I thought, in ascertaining the extent of the change 
which the loss of her mother had wrought in Rachel's char- 
acter. I decided, as a useful test, to probe her on the subject 
of her marriage engagement to Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite. 

Having first met her advances with all possible cordiality, 
I sat by her on the sofa at her own request. We discussed 
family afifairs and future plans — always excepting that one 
future plan which was to end in her marriage. -Try as I 
might to turn the conversation that way, she resolutely de- 
clined to take the hint. Any open reference to the question, 
on my part, would have been premature at this early stage 
of our reconciliation. Besides, I had discovered all I wanted 
to know. She was no longer the reckless, defiant creature 
whom I had heard and seen on the occasion of my martyr- 
dom in Montagu Square. This was, of itself, enough to 
encourage me to take her conversion in hand — beginning 
with a few words of earnest warning directed against the 
hasty formation of the marriage tie, and so getting on to 
higher things. Looking at her now, with this new interest — 
and calling to mind the headlong suddenness with which she 
had met Mr. Godfrey's matrimonial views — I felt the solemn 
duty of interfering, with a fervor which assure^ me that I 
should achieve no common results. Rapidity of proceeding 
was, as I believed, of importance in this case. I went back 
at once to the question of the servants wanted for the fur- 
nished house. 

270 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Where is the Hst, dear?" 

Rachel produced it. 

"Cook, kitchen-maid, house-maid, and footman," I read. 
"My dear Racliel, these servants are only wanted for a term 
— the term during which your guardian has taken the house. 
We shall have great difficulty in finding persons of character 
and capacity to accept a temporary engagement of that sort, 
if we try in London. Has the house at Brighton been found 
yet?" 

"Yes. Godfrey has taken it ; and persons in the house 
wanted him to hire them as servants. He thought they would 
hardly do for us, and came back having settled nothing." 

"And you have no experience yourself in these matters, 
Rachel?" 

"None whatever." 

"And Aunt Ablewhite won't exert herself?" 

"No, poor dear. Don't blame her, Drusilla. I think she 
is the only really happy woman I have ever met with." 

"There are degrees in happiness, darling. We must have 
a little talk some day on that subject. In the mean time I 
will undertake to meet the difficulty about the servants. Your 
aunt will write a letter to the people of the house — " 

"She will sign a letter if I write it for her, which comes to 
the same thing." 

"Quite the same thing. I shall get the letter, and I will 
go to Brighton to-morrow." 

"How extremely kind of you ! We will join you as soon 
as you are ready for us. And you will stay, I hope, as my 
guest. Brighton is so lively ; you are sure to enjoy it." 

In those words the invitation was given, and the glorious 
prospect of interference was opened before me. 

It was then the middle of the week. By Saturday after- 
noon the house was ready for them. In that short interval 
I had sifted, not the characters only, but the religious views 
as well, of all the disengaged servants who applied to me, 
and had succeeded in making a selection which my conscience 
approved. I also discovered, and called on, two serious 
friends of mine, residents in the town, to whom I knew I 
could confide the pious object which had brought me to 
Brighton. One of them — a clerical friend — kindly helped me 

271 



THE MOONSTONE 

to take sittings for our little party in the church in which 
he himself ministered. The other — a single lady, like my- 
self — placed the resources of the library, composed through- 
out of precious publications, entirely at my disposal. I 
borrowed half a dozen works, all carefully chosen with a view 
to Rachel. When these had been judiciously distributed in 
the various rooms she would be likely to occupy, I considered 
that my preparations were complete. Sound doctrine in the 
servants who waited on her; sound doctrine in the minister 
who preached to her ; sound doctrine in the books that lay 
on the table — such was the triple welcome which my zeal had 
prepared for the motherless girl ! A heavenly composure 
filled my mind, on that Saturday afternoon, as I sat at the 
window waiting the arrival of my relatives. The giddy 
throng passed and repassed before my eyes. Alas ! how 
many of them felt my exquisite sense of duty done? An 
awful question. Let us not pursue it. 

Between six and seven the travelers arrived. To my in- 
describable surprise, they were escorted, not by Mr. Godfrey 
(as I had anticipated), but by the lawyer, Mr. Bruff. 

"How do you do, Miss Clack?" he said. "I mean to stay 
this time." 

That reference to the occasion on which I had obliged him 
to postpone his business to mine, when we were both visiting 
in Montagu Square, satisfied me that the old worldling had 
come to Brighton with some object of his own in view. I 
had prepared quite a little Paradise for my beloved Rachel 
— and here was the Serpent already ! 

"Godfrey was very much vexed, Drusilla, not to be able 
to come with us," said my aunt Ablewhite. "There was 
something in the way which kept him in town. Mr. Brufif 
volunteered to take his place, and make a holiday of it till 
Monday morning. By-the-bye, Mr. Brufif, I'm ordered to take 
exercise, and I don't like it. That," added Aunt Ablewhite, 
pointing out of window to an invalid going by in a chair on 
wheels, drawn by a man, "is my idea of exercise. If it's air 
you want, you get it in your chair. And if it's fatigue you 
want, I'm sure it's fatiguing enough to look at the man." 

Rachel stood silent, at a window by herself, with her eyes 
fixed on the sea. 

272 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Tired, love?" I inquired. 

"No. Only a little out of spirits," she answered. "I have 
often seen the sea, on our Yorkshire coast, with that light 
on it. And I was thinking, Drusilla, of the days that can 
never come again." 

Mr. Bruff remained to dinner, and stayed through the even- 
ing. The more I saw of him, the more certain I felt that he 
had some private end to serve in coming to Brighton. I 
watched him carefully. He maintained the same appearance 
of ease, and talked the same godless gossip, hour after hour, 
until it was time to take leave. As he shook hands with 
Rachel I caught his hard and cunning eye resting on her for 
a moment with a very peculiar interest and attention. She 
was plainly concerned in the object that he had in view. He 
said nothing out of the common to her or to any one, on 
leaving. He invited himself to luncheon the next day, and 
then he went away to his hotel. 

It was impossible, the next morning, to get my aunt Able- 
white out of her dressing-gown in time for church. Her 
invalid daughter, suffering from nothing, in my opinion, but 
incurable laziness, inherited from her mother, announced that 
she meant to remain in bed for the day. Rachel and I went 
alone together to church. A magnificent sermon was preached 
by my gifted friend on the heathen indifference of the world 
to the sinfulness of little sins. For more than an hour his 
eloquence, assisted by his glorious voice, thundered through 
the sacred edifice. I said to Rachel, when we came out, "Has 
it found its way to your heart, dear?" And she answered, 
"No ; it has only made my head ache." This might have 
been discouraging to some people. But, once embarked on a 
career of manifest usefulness, nothing discourages me. 

We found Aunt Ablewhite and Mr. Bruff at luncheon. 
When Rachel declined eating any thing, and gave as a reason 
for it that she was suffering from a headache, the lawyer's 
cunning instantly saw, and seized, the chance that she had 
given him. 

"There is only one remedy for a headache," said this hor- 
rible old man. "A walk, Miss Rachel, is the thing to cure 
you. I am entirely at your service, if you will honor me by 
accepting my arm." , 

18 273 



THE MOONSTONE 

"With the greatest pl(^sure. A walk is the very thing I 
was longing for." 

"It's past two," I gently suggested. "And the afternoon 
service, Rachel, begins at three." 

"How can you expect me to go to church again," she asked, 
petulantly, "with such a headache as mine ?" 

Mr. Bruff officiously opened the door for her. In a minute 
more they were both out of the house. I don't know when I 
have felt the solemn duty of interfering so strongly as I felt 
it at that moment. But what was to be done? Nothing was 
to be done but to interfere, at the first opportunity, later in 
the day. 

On my return from the afternoon service I found that they 
had just got back. One look at them told me that the lawyer 
had said what he wanted to say. I had never before seen 
Rachel so silent and so thoughtful. I had never before seen 
Mr. Bruff pay her such devoted attention, and look at her 
with such marked respect. He had, or pretended that he had, 
an engagement to dinner that day — and he took an early leave 
of us all ; intending to go back to London by the first train 
the next morning. 

"Are you sure of your own resolution ?" he said to Rachel 
at the door. 

"Quite sure," she answered — and so they parted. 

The moment his back was turned Rachel withdrew to her 
own room. She never appeared at dinner. Her maid, the 
person with the cap-ribbons, was sent down stairs to an- 
nounce that her headache had returned. I ran up to her, and 
made all sorts of sisterly ofifers through the door. It was 
locked, and she kept it locked. Plenty of obstructive material 
to work on here ! I felt greatly cheered and stimulated by 
her locking the door. 

'\\nien her cup of tea went up to her the next morning I 
followed it in. I sat by her bedside and said a few earnest 
words. She listened with languid civility. I noticed my seri- 
ous friend's precious publications huddled together on a table 
in a corner. Had she chanced to look into them ? — I asked. 
Yes — and they had not interested her. Would she allow me 
to read a few passages, of the deepest interest, which had 
probably escaped her eye ? No ; not now — she had other 

274 



THE MOONSTONE 

things to think of. She gave these answers, with her atten- 
tion apparently absorbed in folding and refolding the frill of 
her night-gown. It was plainly necessary to rouse her by 
some reference to those worldly interests which she still had 
at heart. 

"Do you know, love," I said, "I had an odd fancy, yester- 
day, about Mr. Bruff? I thought, when I saw you after 
your walk with him, that he had been telling you some bad 
news." 

Her fingers dropped from the frilling of her night-gown, 
and her fierce black eyes flashed at me. 

"Quite the contrary !" she said. "It was news I was inter- 
ested in hearing — and I am deeply indebted to Mr. Bruff for 
telling me of it." 

"Yes?" I said, in a tone of gentle interest. 

Her fingers went back to the frilling, and she turned her 
head sullenly away from me. I had been met in this manner, 
in the course of plying the good work, hundreds of times. 
She merely stimulated me to try again. In my dauntless 
zeal for her welfare I ran the great risk, and openly alluded 
to her marriage engagement. 

"News you were interested in hearing?" I repeated. "I 
suppose, my dear Rachel, that must be news of Mr. Godfrey 
Ablewhitc ?" 

She started up in the bed and turned deadly pale. It was 
evidently on the tip of her tongue to retort on me with the 
unbridled insolence of former times. She checked herself — 
laid her head back on the pillow — considered a minute — and 
then answered in these remarkable words : 

"/ shall never marry Mr. Godfrey Ablezvhite." 

It was my turn to start at that. 

"What can you possibly mean ?" I exclaimed. "The mar- 
riage is considered by the whole family as a settled thing?" 

"Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite is expected here to-day," she said, 
doggedly. "Wait till he comes — and you will see." 

"But my dear Rachel — " 

She rang the bell at the head of her bed. The person with 
the cap-ribbons appeared. 

"Penelope! my bath." 

Let me give her her due. In the state of my mind, at that 

275 



THE MOONSTONE 

moment, I do sincerely believe that she had hit on the only 
possible way of forcing me to leave the room. 

By the mere worldly mind my position toward Rachel might 
have been viewed as presenting difficulties of no ordinary 
kind. I had reckoned on leading her to higher things, by 
means of a little earnest exhortation on the subject of her 
marriage. And now, if she was to be believed, no such event 
as her marriage was to take place at all. But ah ! my friends ! 
a working Christian of my experience, with an evangelizing 
prospect before her, takes broader views than these. Sup- 
posing Rachel really broke ofif the marriage on which the 
Ablewhites, father and son, counted as a settled thing, what 
would be the result ? It could only end, if she held firm, in 
an exchanging of hard words and bitter accusations on both 
sides. And what would be the effect on Rachel when the 
stormy interview was over? A salutary moral depression 
would be the effect. Her pride would be exhausted, her stub- 
bornness would be exhausted, by the resolute resistance which 
it was in her character to make under the circumstances. She 
would turn for sympathy to the nearest person who had sym- 
pathy to offer. And I was that nearest person — brimful of 
comfort, charged to overflowing with seasonable and reviving 
words. Never had the evangelizing prospect looked brighter, 
to my eyes, than it looked now. 

She came down to breakfast, but she ate nothing, and 
hardly uttered a word. 

After breakfast she wandered listlessly from room to room 
— then suddenly roused herself and opened the piano. The 
music she selected to play was of the most scandalously pro- 
fane sort, associated with performances on the stage which 
it curdles one's blood to think of. It would have been pre- 
mature to interfere with her at such a time as this. I privately 
ascertained the hour at which Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite was 
expected, and then I escaped the music by leaving the house. 

Being out alone, I took the opportunity of calling upon my 
two resident friends. It was an indescribable luxury to find 
myself indulging in earnest conversation with serious per- 
sons. Infinitely encouraged and refreshed, I turned my steps 
back again to the house, in excellent time to await the arrival 
of our expected visitor. T entered the dining-room, always 

276 



THE MOONSTONE 

empty at that hour of the day — and found myself face to face 
with Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite ! 

He made no attempt to fly the place. Quite the contrary. 
He advanced to meet me with the utmost eagerness. 

"Dear Miss Clack, I have been only waiting to see yoii! 
Chance set me free of my London engagements to-day sooner 
than I expected — and I have got here, in consequence, earlier 
than my appointed time." 

Not the slightest embarrassment encumbered his explana- 
tion, though this was his first meeting with me after the scene 
in Montagu Square. He was not aware, it is true, of my 
having been a witness to that scene. But he knew, on the 
other hand, that my attendances at the JMothers'-Small- 
Clothes, and my relations with friends attached to other chari- 
ties, must have informed me of his shameless neglect of his 
Ladies and his Poor. And yet there he was before me in full 
possession of his charming voice and his irresistible smile ! 

"Have you seen Rachel yet?" I asked. 

He sighed gently, and took me by the hand. I should 
certainly have snatched my hand away, if the manner in 
which he gave his answer had not paralyzed me with aston- 
ishment. 

"I have seen Rachel," he said, with perfect tranquillity. 
"You are aware, dear friend, that she was engaged to me? 
Well, she has taken a sudden resolution to break the engage- 
ment. Reflection has convinced her that she will best consult 
her welfare and mine by retracting a rash promise, and leav- 
ing me free to make some happier choice elsewhere. That is 
the only reason she will give, and the only answer she will 
make to every question that I can ask of her." 

"What have you done on your side?" I inquired. "Have 
you submitted ?" 

"Yes," he said, with the most unruffled composure. "I have 
submitted." 

His conduct, under the circumstances, was so utterly in- 
conceivable that I stood bewildered with my hand in his. It 
is a piece of rudeness to stare at any body, and it is an act 
of indelicacy to stare at a gentleman. I committed both those 
improprieties. And I said, as if in a dream, "What does it 
mean ?" 

277 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Permit me to tell you," he replied. "And suppose we sit 
down ?" 

He led me to a chair, I have an indistinct remembrance 
that he was very affectionate. I don't think he put his arm 
round my waist to support me — but I am not sure. I was 
quite helpless, and his ways with ladies were very endearing. 
At any rate, we sat down. I can answer for that, if I can 
answer for nothing more. 

"I have lost a beautiful girl, an excellent social position, 
and a handsome income," Mr. Godfrey began ; "and I have 
submitted to it without a struggle. What can be the motive 
for such extraordinary conduct as that? My precious friend, 
there is no motive." 

"No motive?" I repeated. 

"Let me appeal, dear Miss Clack, to your experience of 
children," he went on. "A child pursues a certain course of 
conduct. You are greatly struck by it, and you attempt to 
get at the motive. The dear little thing is incapable of telling 
you its motive. You might as well ask the grass why it 
grows, or the birds why they sing. Well ! in this matter I 
am like the dear little thing — like the grass — like the birds. 
I don't know why I made a proposal of marriage to Miss Ver- 
inder. I don't know why I have shamefully neglected my 
dear ladies. I don't know why I have apostatized from the 
Mothers'-Small-Clothes. You say to the child, 'Why have 
you been naughty?' And the little angel puts its finger into 
its mouth, and doesn't know. My case exactly, Miss Clack ! 
I couldn't confess it to any body else. I feel impelled to 
confess it to you!" 

I began to recover myself. A mental problem was involved 
here. I am deeply interested in mental problems — and I am 
not, it is thought, without some skill in solving them. 

"Best of friends, exert your intellect and help me," he pro- 
ceeded. "Tell me — why does a time come when these mat- 
rimonial proceedings of mine begin to look like something 
done in a dream ? Why does it suddenly occur to me that my 
true happiness is in helping my dear ladies, in going my mod- 
est round of useful work, in saying my few earnest words 
when called on by my Chairman? What do I want with a 
position ? I have got a position. What do I want with an 

278 



THE MOONSTONE 

income? I can pay for my bread-and-cheese, and my nice 
little lodging, and my two coats a year. What do I want with 
Miss Verinder? She has told me with her own lips, this, 
dear lady, is between ourselves, that she loves another man, 
and that her only idea in marrying me is to try and put that 
other man out of her head. What a horrid union is this ! 
Oh, dear me, what a horrid union is this ! Such are my re- 
flections, Miss Clack, on my way to Brighton ! I approach 
Rachel with the feeling of a criminal who is going to receive 
his sentence. When I find that she has changed her mind too 
— when I hear her propose to break the engagement — I ex- 
perience, there is no sort of doubt about it, a most overpower- 
ing sense of relief. A month ago I was pressing her 
rapturously to my bosom. An hour ago the happiness of 
knowing that I shall never press her again intoxicates me 
like strong liquor. The thing seems impossible — the thing 
can't be. And yet there are the facts, as I had the honor of 
stating them when we first sat down together in these two 
chairs. I have lost a beautiful girl, an excellent social posi- 
tion, and a handsome income ; and I have submitted to it 
without a struggle. Can you account for it, dear friend? 
It's quite beyond me." 

His magnificent head sank on his breast, and he gave up 
his own mental problem in despair. 

I was deeply touched. The case, if I may speak as a spiri- 
tual physician, was now quite plain to me. It is no uncommon 
event, in the experience of us all, to see the possessors of 
exalted ability occasionally humbled to the level of the most 
poorly-gifted people about them. The object, no doubt, in 
the wise economy of Providence, is to remind greatness that 
it is mortal, and that the power which has conferred it can 
also take it away. It was now — to my mind — easy to discern 
one of thes^ salutary humiliations in the deplorable proceed- 
ings on dear Mr. Godfrey's part, of which I had been the 
unseen witness. And it was equally easy to recognize the 
welcome re-appearance of his own finer nature in the horror 
with which he recoiled from the idea of a marriage with 
Rachel, and in the charming eagerness which he showed to 
return to his ladies and his poor. 

I put this view before him in a few simple and sisterly' 

279 



THE MOONSTONE 

words. His joy was beautiful to see. He compared himself, 
as I went on, to a lost man emerging from the darkness into 
the light. When I answered for a loving reception of him at 
the Mothers'-Small-Clothes, the grateful heart of our Chris- 
tian Hero overflowed. He pressed my hands alternately to 
his lips. Overwhelmed by the exquisite triumph of having 
got him back among us, I let him do what he liked with my 
hands. I closed my eyes. I felt my head, in an ecstasy of 
spiritual self-forgetfulness, sinking on his shoulder. In a 
moment more I should certainly have swooned away in his 
arms, but for an interruption from the outer world, which 
brought me to myself again. A horrid rattling of knives 
and forks sounded outside the door, and the footman came in 
to lay the table for luncheon. 

Mr. Godfrey started up, and looked at the clock on the 
mantel-piece. 

"How time flies with you !" he exclaimed. 'T shall barely 
catch the train." 

I ventured on asking why he was in such a hurry to get 
back to town. His answer reminded me of family difficulties 
that were still to be reconciled, and of family disagreements 
that were yet to come. 

"I have heard from my father," he said. "Business obliges 
him to leave Frizinghall for London to-day, and he proposes 
coming on here either this evening or to-morrow. I must 
tell him what has happened between Rachel and me. His 
heart is set on our marriage — there will be great difificulty, 
I fear, in reconciling him to the breaking-ofif of the engage- 
ment. I must stop him, for all our sakes, from coming here 
till he is reconciled. Best and dearest of friends, we shall 
meet again !" 

With those words he hurried out. In equal haste on my 
side, I ran up stairs to compose myself in my own room be- 
fore meeting Aunt Ablewhite and Rachel at the luncheon- 
table. 

I am well aware — to dwell for a moment yet on the sub- 
ject of Mr. Godfrey — that the all-profaning opinion of the 
outer world has charged him with having his own private 
reasons for releasing Rachel from her engagement, at the 
first opportunity she gave him. It has also reached my ears 

380 



THE MOONSTONE 

that his anxiety to recover his place in my estimation has 
been attributed, in certain quarters, to a mercenary eagerness 
to make his peace, through me, with a venerable committee- 
woman at the Mothers'-Small-Clothes, abundantly blessed 
with the goods of this world, and a beloved and intimate 
friend of my own. I only notice these odious slanders for 
the sake of declaring that they never had a moment's influ- 
ence on my mind. In obedience to my instructions, I have 
exhibited the fluctuations in my opinion of our Christian Hero 
exactly as I find them recorded in my diary. In justice to 
myself, let me here add that, once reinstated in his place in my 
estimation, my gifted friend never lost that place again. I 
write with the tears in my eyes, burning to say more. But 
no — I am cruelly limited to my actual experience of persons 
and things. In less than a month from the time of which 
I am now writing events in the money-market, which dimin- 
ished even my miserable little income, forced me into foreign 
exile, and left me with nothing but a loving remembrance 
of Mr. Godfrey which the slander of the world has assailed, 
and assailed in vain. 

Let me dry my eyes, and return to my narrative. 

I WENT down stairs to luncheon, naturally anxious to see how 
Rachel was afifected by her release from her marriage engage- 
ment. 

It appeared to me — but I own I am a poor authority in 
such matters — that the recovery of her freedom had set her 
thinking again of that other man whom she loved, and that 
she was furious with herself for not being able to control a 
revulsion of feeling of which she was secretly ashamed. Who 
was the man ? I had my suspicions — but it was needless to 
waste time in idle speculation. When I had converted her, 
she would, as a matter of course, have no concealments from 
me. I should hear all about the man ; I should hear all about 
the Moonstone. If I had had no higher object in stirring 
her up to a sense of spiritual things, the motive of relieving 
her mind of its guilty secrets would have been enough of 
itself to encourage me to go on. 

Aunt Ablewhite took her exercise in the afternoon in an 
invalid chair. Rachel accompanied her, "I wish I could 

381 



THE MOONSTONE 

drag the chair," she broke out, recklessly. "I wish I could 
fatigue myself till I was ready to drop !" 

She was in the same humor in the evening. I discovered 
in one of my friend's precious publications — The Life, Let- 
ters, and Labors of Miss Jane Ann Stamper, forty-fifth edi- 
tion — passages which bore with a marvelous appropriateness 
on Rachel's present position. Upon my proposing to read 
them she went to the piano. Conceive how little she must 
have known of serious people, if she supposed that my pa- 
tience was to be exhausted in that way ! I kept Miss Jane 
Ann Stamper by me, and waited for events with the most 
unfaltering trust in the future. 

Old Mt. Ablewhite never made his appearance that night. 
But I knew the importance which his worldly greed attached 
to his son's marriage with Miss Verinder — and I felt a posi- 
tive conviction, do what Mr. Godfrey might to prevent it, 
that we should see him the next day. With his interference 
in the matter, the storm on which I had counted would cer- 
tainly come, and the salutary exhaustion of Rachel's resisting 
powers would as certainly follow. I am not ignorant that 
old Mr. Ablewhite has the reputation generally, especially 
among his inferiors, of being a remarkably good-natured 
man. According to my observation of him, he deserves his 
reputation as long as he has his own way, and not a moment 
longer. 

The next day, exactly as I had foreseen. Aunt Ablewhite 
was as near to being astonished as her nature would permit, 
by the sudden appearance of her husband. He had barely 
been a minute in the house before he was followed, to my 
astonishment this time, by an unexpected complication in the 
shape of Mr. Brufif. 

I never remember feeling the presence of the lawyer to be 
more unwelcome than I felt it at that moment. He looked 
ready for any thing in the way of an obstructive proceeding 
— capable even of keeping the peace, with Rachel for one of 
the combatants ! 

"This is a pleasant surprise, sir," said Mr. Ablewhite, ad- 
dressing himself with his deceptive cordiality to Mr. Brufif. 
''When I left your office yesterday, I didn't expect to have 
the honor of seeing you at Brighton to-day." 

283 * 



•THE MOONSTONE 

'T turned over our conversation in my mind, after you had 
gone," replied Mr. Bruff. "And it occurred to me that I 
might perhaps be of some use on this occasion. I was just 
in time to catch the train, and I had no opportunity of dis- 
covering the carriage in which you were travehng." 

Having given that explanation he seated himself by Rachel. 
I retired modestly to a corner — with Miss Jane Ann Stamper 
on my lap in case of emergency. My aunt sat at the win- 
dow, placidly fanning herself as usual. Mr. Ablewhite stood 
up in the middle of the room, with his bald head much pinker 
than I had ever seen it yet, and addressed himself in the most 
affectionate manner to his niece. 

"Rachel, my dear," he said, "I have heard some very ex- 
traordinary news from Godfrey. And I am here to inquire 
about it. You have a sitting-room of your own in this house. 
Will you honor me by showing me the way to it?" 

Rachel never moved. Whether she was determined to 
bring matters to a crisis, or whether she was prompted by 
some private sign from Mr. Bruff, is more than I can tell. 
She declined doing old Mr. Ablewhite the honor of conduct- 
ing him to her sitting-room. 

"Whatever you wish to say to me," she answered, "can be 
said here — in the presence of my relatives, and in the pres- 
ence," she looked at ]\Ir. Bruff, "of my mother's trusted old 
friend." 

"Just as you please, my dear," said the amiable Mr. Able- 
white. He took a chair. The rest of them looked at his face 
— as if they expected it, after seventy years of worldly train- 
ing, to speak the truth. / looked at the top of his bald 
head ; having noticed, on other occasions, that the tem- 
per which was really in him had a habit of registering it- 
self there. 

"Some weeks ago," pursued the old gentleman, "my son 
informed me that Miss Verinder had done him the honor to 
engage herself to marry him. Is it possible, Rachel, that he 
can have misinterpreted — or presumed upon — what you reall}^ 
said to him?" 

"Certainly not," she replied. "I did engage myself to 
marry him." 

"Very frankly answered !" said IMr. Ablewhite. "And most 

283 



THE MOONSTONE 

satisfactory, my dear, so far. In respect to what happened 
some weeks since, Godfrey has made no mistake. The error 
is evidently in what he told me yesterday. I begin to see it 
now. You and he have had a lovers' quarrel — and my foolish 
son has interpreted it seriously. Ah ! I should have known 
better than that, at his age." 

The fallen nature in Rachel — the mother Eve, so to speak 
— began to chafe at this. 

"Pray let us understand each other, Mr. Ablewhite," she 
said. "Nothing in the least like a quarrel took place yester- 
day between your son and me. If he told you that I proposed 
breaking ofif our marriage engagement, and that he agreed on 
his side — he told you the truth." 

The self-registering thermometer at the top of Mr. Able- 
white's bald head began to indicate a rise of temper. His 
face was more amiable than ever — but there was the pink at 
the top of his face, a shade deeper already ! 

"Come, come, my dear !" he said, in his most soothing man- 
ner, "now don't be angry, and don't be hard on poor Godfrey ! 
He has evidently said some unfortunate thing. He was 
always clumsy from a child — but he means well, Rachel, he 
means well !" 

"Mr. Ablewhite, I have either expressed myself very badly, 
or you are purposely mistaking me. Once for all, it is a 
settled thing between your son and myself that we remain, 
for the rest of our lives, cousins and nothing more. Is that 
plain enough?" 

The tone in which she said those words made it impossible, 
even for old Mr. Ablewhite, to mistake her any longer. His 
thermometer went up another degree, and his voice, when he 
next spoke, ceased to be the voice which is appropriate to a 
notoriously good-natured man. 

"I am to understand, then," he said, "that your marriage 
engagement is broken of??" 

"You are to understand that, Mr. Ablewhite, if you please." 

"I am also to take it as a matter of fact that the proposal 
to withdraw from the engagement came, in the first instance, 
from yoitf" 

"It came, in the first instance, from me. And it met, as I 
have told you, with your son's consent and approval." 

V 284 



THE MOONSTONE 

The thermometer went up to the top of the register. I 
mean, the pink changed suddenly to scarlet. 

"My son is a mean-spirited hound !" cried this furious old 
worldling. "In justice to myself as his father — not in justice 
to him — I beg to ask you, Miss Verinder, what complaint 
you have to make of Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite?" 

Here Mr. Brufif interfered for the first time. 

"You are not bound to answer that question," he said to 
Rachel. 

Old Mr. Ablewhite fastened on him instantly. 

"Don't forget, sir," he said, "that you are a self-invited 
guest here. Your interference would have come with a bet- 
ter grace if you had waited until it was asked for." 

Mr. Bruff took no notice. The smooth varnish • on his 
wicked old face never cracked. Rachel thanked him for the 
advice he had given to her, and then turned to old Mr. Able- 
white — preserving her composure in a manner which, having 
regard to her age and her sex, was simply awful to see. 

"Your son put the same question to me which you have 
just asked," she said. "I had only one answer for him, and 
I have only one answer for you. I proposed that we should 
release each other, because reflection had convinced me that 
T should best consult his welfare and mine by retracting a 
rash promise, and leaving him free to make his choice else- 
where." 

"What has my son done?" persisted Mr. Ablewhite. "I 
have a right to know that. What has my son done ?" 

She persisted just as obstinately on her side. 

"You have had the only explanation which I think it neces- 
sary to give to you, or to him," she answered. 

"In plain English, it's your sovereign will and pleasure. 
Miss Verinder, to jilt my son ?" 

Rachel was silent for a moment. Sitting close behind her, 
I heard her sigh. Mr. Bruff took her hand, and gave it a lit- 
tle squeeze. She recovered herself, and answered Mr. Able- 
white as boldly as ever. 

"I have exposed myself to worse misconstruction than 
that," she said. "x\nd I have borne it patiently. The time 
has gone by when vou could mortifv me bv calling me a 
jilt." 

285 



THE MOONSTONE 

She spoke with a bitterness of tone which satisfied me that 
the scandal of the Moonstone had been in some way recalled 
to her mind. "I have no more to say," she added, wearily, 
not addressing the words to any one in particular, and look- 
ing away from us all, out of the window that was nearest to 
her. 

Mr. Ablewhite got upon his feet, and pushed away his 
chair so violently that it toppled over and fell on the floor. 

"I have something more to say on my side," he announced, 
bringing down the flat of his hand on the table with a bang. 
"I have to say that if my son doesn't feel this insult I do !" 

Rachel started, and looked at him in sudden surprise. 

"Insult?" she repeated. "What do you mean?" 

"Insl-ilt !" reiterated Mr. Ablewhite. "I know your motive. 
Miss Verinder, for breaking your promise to my son ! I 
know it as certainly as if you had confessed it in so many 
words. Your cursed family pride is insulting Godfrey, as it 
insulted jne when I married your aunt. Her famil}' — her 
beggarly family — turned their backs on her for marrying an 
honest man, who had made his own place and won his own 
fortune. I had no ancestors. I wasn't descended from a set 
of cut-throat scoundrels who lived by robbery and murder. 
I couldn't point to the time when the Able whites hadn't a 
shirt to their backs, and couldn't sign their own names. Ha ! 
ha ! I wasn't good enough for the Herncastles, when / mar- 
ried. And, now it comes to the pinch, my son isn't good 
enough for yon. I suspected it all along. You have got the 
Herncastle blood in you, my young lady ! I suspected it all 
along." 

"A very unworthy suspicion," remarked Mr. Bruff. "I am 
astonished that you have the courage to acknowledge it." 
. Before Mr. Ablewhite could find words to answer, Rachel 
spoke in the tone of the most exasperating contempt. 

"Surely," she said to the lawyer, "this is beneath notice. 
If he can think in that way, let us leave him to think as he 
pleases." 

From scarlet Mr. Ablewhite was now becoming purple. 
He gasped for breath ; he looked backward and forward from 
Rachel to Mr. Bruff in such a frenzy of rage with both of 
them that he didn't know which to attack first. His wife, 

286 



THE MOONSTONE 

who had sat impenetrably fanning herself up to this time, 
began to be alarmed, and attempted, quite uselessly, to quiet 
him. I had, throughout this distressing interview, felt more 
than one inward call to interfere with a few earnest words, 
and had controlled myself under a dread of the possible re- 
sults, very unworthy of a Christian Englishwoman who looks, 
not to what is meanly prudent, but to what is morally right. 
At the point at which matters had now arrived I rose superior 
to all considerations of mere expediency. If I had contem- 
plated interposing any remonstrance of my own humble de- 
vising, I might possibly still have hesitated. But the dis- 
tressing domestic emergency which now confronted me was 
most marvelously and beautifully provided for in the Corre- 
spondence of Miss Jane Ann Stamper — Letter one thousand 
and one, on "Peace in Families." I rose in my modest corner, 
and I opened my precious book. 

"Dear Mr. Ablewhite," I said, "one word !" 

When I first attracted the attention of the company by 
rising, I could see that he was on the point of saying some- 
thing rude to me. My sisterly form of address checked him. 
He stared in heathen astonishment. 

"As an affectionate well-wisher and friend," I proceeded, 
"and as one long accustomed to arouse, convince, prepare, 
enlighten, and fortify others, permit mie to take the most 
pardonable of all liberties — the liberty of composing your 
mind." 

He began to recover himself; he was on the point of 
breaking out — he would have broken out, with any body else. 
r)Ut my voice, habitually gentle, possesses a high note or so. 
in emergencies. In this emergency I felt imperatively called 
upon to have the highest voice of the two. 

I held up my precious book before him ; I rapped the open 
page impressively with my forefinger. "Not ray words !" 
I exclaimed, in a burst of fervent interruption. Oh, don't 
suppose that I claim attention for my humble words ! Manna 
in the wilderness, Mr. Ablewhite ! Dew on the parched 
earth ! Words of comfort, words of wisdom, words of 
love — the blessed, blessed, blessed words of Miss Jane Ann 
Stamper!" 

I was stopped there by a momentary impediment of the 

287 



THE MOONSTONE 

breath. Before I could recover myself, this monster in human 
form shouted out furiously : 

"Miss Jane Ann Stamper be !" 

It is impossible for me to write the awful word which is 
here represented by a blank. I shrieked as it passed his lips ; 
I flew to my little bag on the side-table ; I shook out all my 
tracts ; I seized the one particular tract on profane swearing, 
entitled, "Hush, for Heaven's Sake!" I handed it to him 
with an expression of agonized entreaty. He tore it in two, 
and threw it back at me across the table. The rest of them 
rose in alarm, not knowing what might happen next. I in- 
stantly sat down again in my corner. There had once been 
an occasion, under somewhat similar circumstances, when 
Miss Jane Ann Stamper had been taken by the two shoul- 
ders and turned out of a room. I waited, inspired by her 
spirit, for a repetition of her martyrdom. 

But no — it was not to be. His wife was the next person 
whom he addressed. "Who — who — who," he said, stammer- 
ing with rage, "asked this impudent fanatic into the house? 
Did you?" 

Before Aunt Ablewhite could say a word, Rachel answered 
for her : 

"Miss Clack is here," she said, "as my guest." 

Those words had a singular effect on Mr. Ablewhite. They 
suddenly changed him from a man in a state of red-hot anger 
to a man in a state of icy-cold contempt. It was plain to 
every body that Rachel had said something — short and plain 
as her answer had been — which gave him the uppfer hand of 
her at last. 

"Oh !" he said. "Miss Clack is here as your guest — in my 
house ?" 

It was Rachel's turn to lose her temper at that. Her color 
rose, and her eyes brightened fiercely. She turned to the 
lawyer, and, pointing at Mr. Ablewhite, asked, haughtily, 
"What does he mean?" 

Mr. Brufif interfered for the third time. 

"You appear to forget," he said, addressing Mr. Able- 
white, "that you took this house as Miss Verinder's guardian, 
for Miss Verinder's use." 

"Not quite so fast," interposed Air. Ablewhite. "I have 

28S 



THE MOONSTONE 

a last word to say, which I should have said some time since, 
if this — " He looked my way, pondering what abominable 
name he should call me — "if this Rampant Spinster had not 
interrupted us. I beg to inform you, sir, that, if my son is 
not good enough to be Miss Verinder's husband, I can not 
presume to consider his father good enough to be Miss Verin- 
der's guardian. Understand, if you please, that I refuse to 
accept the position which is offered to me by Lady Verinder's 
will. In your legal phrase, I decline to act. This house has 
necessarily been hired in my name. I take the entire respon- 
sibility of it on my shoulders. It is my house. I can keep 
it, or let it, just as I please. I have no wish to hurry Miss 
Verinder. On the contrary, I beg her to remove her guest 
and her luggage, at her own entire convenience." He made 
a low bow, and walked out of the room. 

That was Mr. Ablewhite's revenge on Rachel for refusing 
to marry his son ! 

The instant the door closed Aunt Ablewhite exhibited a 
phenomenon which silenced us all. She became endowed with 
energy enough to cross the room ! 

"My dear," she said, taking Rachel by the hand, "I should 
be ashamed of my husband, if I didn't know that it is his 
temper which has spoken to you, and not himself. You." 
continued Aunt Ablewhite, turning on me in my corner with 
another endowment of energy, in her looks this time instead 
of her limbs — "you are the mischievous person who irritated 
him. I hope I shall never see you or your tracts again." She 
Avent back to Rachel, and kissed her. "I beg your pardon. 
mv dear," she said, "in my husband's name. What can I do 
for you?" 

Consistently perverse in every thing — capricious and un- 
reasonable in all the actions of her life — Rachel melted into 
tears at those commonplace words, and returned her aunt's 
kiss in silence. 

"If I may be permitted to answer for ]\Iiss Verinder," said 
Mr. Bruff, "might I ask you, Mrs. Ablewhite, to send Penel- 
ope down with her mistress's bonnet and shawl. Leave us 
ten minutes together," he added, in a lower tone, "and you 
may rely on my setting matters right, to your satisfaction as 
well <ns to Rachel's." 

19 289 



THE MOONSTONE 

The trust of the family in this man was something wonder- 
ful to see. Without a word more, on her side, Aunt Able- 
white left the room. 

"Ah !" said Mr. Bruff, looking after her. "The Herncastle 
blood has its drawbacks, I admit. But there is something in 
good-breeding, after all !" 

Having made that purely worldly remark, he looked hard 
at my corner, as if he expected me to go. My interest in 
Rachel — an infinitely higher interest than his — riveted me to 
my chair. 

Mr. Bruff gave it up, exactly as he had given it up at 
Aunt Verinder's, in Montagu Square. He led Rachel to a 
chair by the window, and spoke to her there. 

"My dear young lady," he said, "Mr. Ablewhite's conduct 
has naturally shocked you, and taken you by surprise. If it 
was worth while to contest the question with such a man, we 
might soon show him that he is not to have things all his 
own way. But it isn't worth while. You were quite right in 
what you said just now ; he is beneath our notice." 

He stopped, and looked round at my corner. I sat there 
quite immovable, with my tracts at my elbow, and with Miss 
Jane Ann Stamper on my lap. 

"You know," he resumed, turning back again to Rachel, 
"that it was part of your poor mother's fine nature always 
to see the best of the people about her, and never the worst. 
She named her brother-in-law your guardian because she be- 
lieved in him, and because she thought it would please her 
sister. I had never liked Mr. Ablewhite myself, and I induced 
your mother to let me insert a clause in the will empowering 
her executors, in certain events, to consult with me about 
the appointment of a new guardian. One of those events has 
happened to-day ; and I find myself in a position to end all 
these dry business details, I hope agreeably, with a message 
from my wife. Will you honor Mrs. Bruflf by becoming her 
guest? And will you remain under my roof, and be one of 
my family, until we wise people have laid our heads together, 
and have settled what is to be done next?" 

At those words I rose to interfere. Mr. Bruff had done 
exactly what I had dreaded he would do, when, he asked ]\lrs. 
Ablewhite for Rachel's bonnet and shawl. 

2qo 



THE MOONSTONE 

Before I could interpose a word Rachel had accepted his 
invitation in the warmest terms. If I suffered the arrange- 
ment thus made between them to be carried out — if she once 
passed the threshold of Mr. Bruff's door — farewell to the 
fondest hope of my life, the hope of bringing my lost sheep 
back to the fold ! The bare idea of such a calamity as this 
quite overwhelmed me. I cast the miserable trammels of 
worldly discretion to the winds, and spoke with the fervor 
that filled me, in the words that came first. 

"Stop !" I said — "stop ! I must be heard. Mr. Bruff ! you 
are not related to her, and I am. / invite her — I summon 
the executors to appoint iiic guardian. Rachel, dearest 
Rachel, I offer you my modest home ; come to London by the 
next train, love, and share it with me !" 

i\Ir. Bruff said nothing. Rachel looked at me with a cruel 
astonishment which she made no effort to conceal. 

"You are very kind, Drusilla," she said. "I shall hope 
to visit you whenever T happen to be in London. But 
I have accepted Mr. Bruff's invitation, and I think it 
will be best, for the present, if I remain under ]\Ir. Bruff's 
care." 

"Oh, don't say so !" I pleaded. "I can't part with you, 
Rachel — I can't part with you !" 

I tried to fold her in my arms. But she drew back. My 
fervor did not communicate itself; it only alarmed her. 

"Surely," she said, "this is a very unnecessary display of 
agitation? I don't understand it." 

"No more do I," said Mr. Bruff. 

Their hardness — their hideous, worldly hardness — revolted 
me. 

"Oh, Rachel ! Rachel !" I burst out. "Haven't you seen 
yet that my heart yearns to make a Christian of you ? Has 
no inner voice told you that I am trying to do for you. what 
I was trying to do for your dear mother when death snatched 
her out of my hands?" 

Rachel advanced a step nearer, and looked at me very 
strangely. 

"I don't understand your reference to my mother," she 
said. "Miss Clack, will you have the goodness to explain 
yourself ?" 

291 



THE MOONSTONE 

Before I could answer Mr. Bruff came forv/ard, and, offer- 
ing his arm to Rachel, tried to lead her out of the room. 

"You had better not pursue the subject, my dear," he said. 
"And Miss Clack had better not explain herself." 

If I had been a stock or a stone, such an interference as 
this must have roused me into testifying to the truth. I put 
Mr. Bruff aside indignantly with my own hand, and, in solemn 
and suitable language, I stated the view with which sound 
doctrine does not scruple to regard the awful calamity of 
dying unprepared. 

Rachel started back from me — I blush to write it — with a 
scream of horror. 

"Come away !" she said to Mr. Bruff. "Come away, for 
God's sake, before that woman can say any more ! Oh, think 
of my poor mother's harmless, useful, beautiful life ! You 
were at the funeral, Mr. Bruff; you saw how every body 
loved her; you saw the poor helpless people crying at her 
grave over the loss of their best friend. And that wretch 
stands there and tries to make me doubt that my mother, 
who was an angel on earth, is an angel in heaven now ! Don't 
stop to talk about it ! Come away ! It stifles me to breathe 
the same air with her ! It frightens me to feel that we are in 
the same room together !" 

Deaf to all remonstrance, she ran to the door. 

At the same moment her maid entered with her bonnet 
and shawl. She huddled them on anyhow. "Pack my 
things," she said, "and bring them to Mr. Bruff's." I at- 
tempted to approach her — I was shocked and grieved, but, 
it is needless to say, not offended. I only wished to say to 
her, "May your hard heart be softened ! I freely forgive 
you !" She pulled down her veil, and tore her shawl away 
from my hand, and, hurrying out, shut the door in my face. 
I bore the insult with my customary fortitude. I remember 
it now with my customary superiority to all feeling of offense. 

Mr. Bruff had his parting word of mockery for me, before 
he too hurried out, in his turn. 

"You had better not have explained 3'ourself, Miss Clack," 
he said, and bowed, and left the room. 

The person with the cap-ribbons followed. 

"It's easy to see who has set them all by the ears together," 

292 



THE MOONSTONE 

she said. "I'm only a poor servant — but I declare I'm 
ashamed of you !" She too went out, and banged the door 
after her. 

I was left alone in the room. Reviled by them all, de- 
serted by them all, I was left alone in the room. 



Is there more to be added to this plain statement of facts 
—to this touching picture of a Christian persecuted by the 
world ? No ! my diary reminds me that one more of the 
many checkered chapters in my life ends here. From that 
day forth I never saw Rachel Verinder again. She had my 
forgiveness at the time when she insulted me. She has had 
my prayerful good wishes ever since. And when I die — to 
complete the return on my part of good for evil — she will 
have the Life, Letters, and Labor of Miss Jane Ann Stamper 
left her as a legacy by my will. 



SECOND NARRATIVE 

Contributed by Mathew Briiff, Solicitor, of Cray^s Inn Square. 



CHAPTER I. 



MY fair friend, Miss Clack, having laid down the pen, 
there are two reasons for my taking it up next, in my 
turn. 

In the first place, I am in a position to throw the necessary 
light on certain points of interest which have thus far been 
left in the dark. Miss Verinder had her own private reason 
for breaking her marriage engagement — and I was at the 
bottom of it. Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite had his own private 
reason for withdrawing all claim to the hand of his charm- 
ing cousin — and I discovered what it was. 

In the second place, it was my good or ill fortune, I hardly 
know which, to find myself personally involved — at the period 

293 



THE MOONSTONE 

of which I am now writing — in the mystery of the Indian 
Diamond. I had the honor of an interview, at my own 
office, with an Oriental stranger of distinguished manners, 
who was no other, unquestionably, than the chief of the three 
Indians. Add to this, that I met with the celebrated trav- 
eler, Mr. Murthwaite, the day afterward, and that I held a 
conversation with him on the subject of the Moonstone, which 
has a very important bearing on later events. And there you 
have the statement of my claims to fill the position which I 
occupy in these pages. 

The true story of the broken marriage engagement comes 
first in point of time, and must therefore take the first place 
in the present narrative. Tracing my way back along the 
chain of events, from one end to the other, I find it necessary 
to open the scene, oddly enough as you will think, at the 
bedside of my excellent client and friend, the late Sir John 
Verinder. 

Sir John had his share — perhaps rather a large share — of 
the more harmless and amiable of the weaknesses incidental 
to humanity. Among these, I may mention as applicable to 
the matter in hand, an invincible reluctance — so long as he 
enjoyed his usual good health — to face the responsibility of 
making his will. Lady Verinder exerted her influence to 
rouse him to a sense of duty in this matter; and I exerted 
my influence. He admitted the justice of our views — but 
he went no further than that, until he found himself afflicted 
with the illness which ultimately brought him to his grave. 
Then I was sent for at last, to take my client's instructions 
on the subject of his will. They proved to be the simplest 
instructions I had ever received in the whole of my profes- 
sional career. 

Sir John was dozing, when I entered the room. He roused 
himself at the sight of me. 

"How do you do, Mr. BrufT?" he said. "I sha'n't be very 
long about this. And then I'll go to sleep again." He looked 
on with great interest while I collected pens, ink, and paper. 
"Are you ready?" he asked. I bowed, took a dip of ink, and 
waited for my instructions. 

"Every thing to my wife," said Sir John. "That's all." 

294 



THE MOONSTONE 

He turned round on his pillow, and composed himself to sleep 
again. 

I was obliged to disturb him. 

"Am I to understand," I asked, "that you leave the whole 
of the property, of every sort and description, of which you 
die possessed, absolutely to Lady Verinder?" 

"Yes," said Sir John. "Only / put it shorter. Why can't 
you put it shorter, and let me go to sleep again ? Every thing 
to my wife. That's my will." 

His property was entirely at his own disposal, and was of 
two kinds. Property in land— I purposely abstain from using 
technical language — and property in money. In the majority 
of cases, I am afraid I should have felt it my duty to my 
client to ask him to reconsider his will. In the case of Sir 
John, I knew Lady Verinder to be, not only worthy of the 
unreserved trust which her husband had placed in her — all 
good wives are worthy of that — but to be also capable of 
properly administering a trust, which, in my experience of the 
fair sex, not one in a thousand of them is competent to do. 
In ten minutes Sir John's will was drawn and executed, and 
Sir John himself, good man, was finishing his interrupted 
nap. 

Lady Verinder amply justified the confidence which her 
husband had placed in her. In the first days of her widow- 
hood she sent for me and made her will. The view she took 
of her position was so thoroughly sound and sensible that I 
was relieved of all necessity for advising her. My responsi- 
bility began and ended with shaping her instructions into 
the proper legal form. Before Sir John had been a fortnight 
in his grave the future of his daughter had been most wisely 
and most affectionately provided for. 

The will remained in its fire-proof box at my office, through 
more years than I like to reckon up. It was not till the sum- 
mer of eighteen hundred and forty-eight that I found occasion 
to look at it again under very melancholy circumstances. 

At the date I have mentioned the doctors pronounced the 
sentence on poor Lady Verinder, which was literally a sen- 
tence of death. I was the first person whom she informed 
of her situation ; and I found her anxious to go over her will 
again with me, 

395 



THE MOONSTONE 

It was impossible to improve the provisions relating to 
her daughter. But, in the lapse of time, her wishes in regard 
to certain minor legacies, left to different relatives, had under- 
gone some modification ; and it became necessary to add three 
or four codicils to the original document. Having done this 
at once, for fear of accidents, I obtained her ladyship's per- 
mission to embody her recent instructions in a second will. 
My object was to avoid certain inevitable confusions and repe- 
titions which now disfigured the original document, and 
which, to own the truth, grated sadly on my professional sense 
of the fitness of things. 

The execution of this second will has been described by 
Miss Clack, who was so obliging as to witness it. So far as 
regards Rachel Verinder's pecuniary interests, it was, wOrd 
for word, the exact counterpart of the first will. The only 
changes introduced related to the appointment of a guardian, 
and to certain provisions concerning that appointment, which 
were made under my advice. On Lady Verinder's death, 
the will was placed in the hands of my proctor to be "proved," 
as the phrase is, in the usual way. 

In about three weeks from that time — as well as I can re- 
member — the first warning reached me of something unusual 
going on under the surface. I happened to be looking in at 
my friend the proctor's office, and I observed that he received 
me with an appearance of greater interest than usual. 

"I have some news for you," he said. "What do you think 
I heard at Doctors' Commons this morning? Lady Verin- 
der's will has been asked for, and examined, already !" 

This was news indeed ! There was absolutely nothing 
which could be contested in the will ; and there was nobody 
I could think of who had the slightest interest in examining 
it. I shall perhaps do well if I explain in this place, for the 
benefit of the few people who don't know it already, that the 
law allows all wills to be examined at Doctors' Commons by 
any body who applies, on the payment of a shilling fee. 

"Did you hear who asked for the will ?" I inquired. 

"Yes ; the clerk had no hesitation in telling me. Mr. 
Smalley, of the firm of Skipp & Smalley, asked for it. The 
will has not been copied yet into the great folio registers. 
So there was no alternative but to depart from the usual 

296 



THE MOONSTONE 

course, and to let him see the original document. He looked 
it over carefully, and made a note in his pocket-book. Have 
you any idea of w^hat he wanted with it?" 

I shook my head. "I shall find out," I answered, "before 
I am a day older." With that I went back at once to my 
own office. 

If any other firm of solicitors had been concerned in this 
unaccountable examination of my deceased client's will I 
might have found some difficulty in making the necessary 
discovery. But I had a hold over Skipp & Smalley which 
made my course in this matter a comparatively easy one. 
My common-law clerk, a most competent and excellent man, 
was a brother of Mr. Smalley 's; and, owing to this sort of 
indirect connection with me, Skipp & Smalley had, for some 
vears past, picked up the crumbs that fell from my table, in 
the shape of cases brought to my office, which, for various 
reasons, I did not think it worth while to undertake. My 
professional patronage was, in this way, of some importance 
to the firm. I intended, if necessary, to remind them of that 
patronage on the present occasion. 

The moment I got back I spoke to my clerk ; and after 
telling him what had happened I sent him to his brother's 
office, "with Mr. Bruff's compliments, and he would be glad 
to know why Messrs. Skipp & Smalley had found it necessary 
to examine Lady Verinder's will." 

This message brought Mr. Smalley back to my office, in 
company with his brother. He acknowledged that he had 
acted under instructions received from a client. And then 
he put it to me, whether it would not be a breach of profes- 
sional confidence on his part to say more. 

We had a smart discussion upon that. He was right, no 
doubt, and I was wrong. The truth is, I was angry and sus- 
picious — and I insisted on knowing more. Worse still, I 
declined to consider any additional information oflfered to 
me, as a secret placed in my keeping : I claimed perfect free- 
dom to use my own discretion. Worse even than that, I took 
an unwarrantable advantage of my position. "Choose, sir," 
T said to Mr. Smalley, "between the risk of losing your client's 
business, and the risk of losing mine." Quite indefensible, 
I admit — an act of tyranny, and nothing less. Like other 

297 



THE MOONSTONE 

tyrants, I carried my point. Mr. Smalley chose his alterna- 
tive, without a moment's hesitation. He smiled resignedly, 
and gave up the name of his client, — Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite. 
That was enough for me — I wanted to know no more. 

Having reached this point in my narrative, it now becomes 
necessary to place the reader of these lines — so far as Lady 
Verinder's will is concerned — on a footing of perfect equality, 
in respect of information, with myself. 

Let me state, then, in the fewest possible words, that Rachel 
Verinder had nothing but a life-interest in the property. Her 
mother's excellent sense, and my long experience, had com- 
bined to relieve her of all responsibility, and to guard her 
from all danger of becoming the victim in the future of some 
needy and unscrupulous man. Neither she nor her husband, 
if she married, could raise sixpence, either on the property in 
land or on the property in money. They would have the 
houses in London and in Yorkshire to live in, and they would 
have the handsome income — and that was all. 

When I came to think over what I had discovered, I was 
sorely perplexed what to do next. 

Hardly a week had passed since I had heard, to my sur- 
prise and distress, of Miss Verinder's proposed marriage. I 
had the sincerest admiration and affection for her ; and I had 
been inexpressibly grieved when I heard that she was about 
to throw herself away on Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite. And now, 
here was this man — whom I had always believed to be a 
smooth-tongued impostor — justifying the very worst that I 
had thought of him, and plainly revealing the mercenary ob- 
ject of the marriage, on his side! And what of that? — you 
may reply — the thing is done every day. Granted, my dear 
sir. But would you think of it quite as lightly as you do, 
if the thing was done, let us say, with your own sister? 

The first consideration which now naturally occurred to 
me, was this. Would Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite hold to his 
engagement, after what his lawyer had discovered for him? 

It depended entirely on his pecuniary position, of which I 
knew nothing. If that position was not a desperate one, it 
would be well worth his while to marry Miss Verinder for 
her income alone. If, on the other hand, he stood in urgent 

298 



THE MOONSTONE 

need of realizing a large sum by a given time, then Lady Ver- 
inder's \vill would exactly meet the case, and would preserve 
her daughter from falling into a scoundrel's hands. 

In che latter event, there would be no need for me to dis- 
tress Miss Rachel, in the first days of her mourning for her 
mother, by an immediate revelation of the truth. In the for- 
mer event, if I remained silent, I should be conniving at a 
marriage which would make her miserable for life. 

My doubts ended in my calling at the hotel in London, at 
which I knew Mrs. Ablewhite and Miss Verinder to be stay- 
ing. They informed me that they were going to Brighton 
the next day, and that an unexpected obstacle prevented Mr. 
Godfrey Ablewhite from accompanying them. I at once pro- 
posed to take his place. When I was only thinking of Rachel 
Verinder, it was possible to hesitate. When I actually saw 
her, my mind was made up directly, come what might of it, 
to tell her the truth. 

I found my opportunity, when I was out walking with her, 
on the day after my arrival. 

"May I speak to you," I asked, ''about your marriage en- 
gagement ?" 

"Yes," she said, indifferently, "if you have nothing more 
interesting to talk about." 

"Will you forgive an old friend and servant of your fam- 
ily, Miss Rachel, if I venture on asking whether your heart 
is set on this marriage?" 

"I am marrying in despair, Mr. Bruff — on the chance of 
dropping into some sort of stagnant happiness which may 
reconcile me to my life." 

Strong language ! and suggestive of something below the 
surface, in the shape of a romance. But I had my own object 
in view, and I declined, as we lawyers say, to pursue the 
question into its side issues. 

"Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite can hardly be of your way of 
thinking," I said. "His heart must be set on the marriage, 
at any rate?" 

"He says so, and I suppose I ought to believe him. He 
would hardly marry me, after what I have owned to him, 
unless he was fond of me." 

Poor thing! the bare idea of a man marrying her for his 

299 



THE MOONSTONE 

own selfish and mercenary ends had never entered her head. 
The task I had set myself began to look like a harder task 
than I had bargained for. 

"It sounds strangely," I went on, "in my old-fashioned 
ears — " 

"What sounds strangely ?" she asked. 

"To hear you speak of your future husband as if you were 
not quite sure of the sincerity of his attachment. Are you 
conscious of any reason in your own mind for doubting him ?" 

Her astonishing quickness of perception detected a change 
in my voice, or my manner, when I put that question, which 
warned her that I had been speaking all along with some 
ulterior object in view. She stopped, and, taking her arm 
out of mine, looked me searchingly in the face. 

"Mr. Bruff," she said, "you have something to tell me 
about Godfrey Ablewhite. Tell it." 

I knew her well enough to take her at her word. I told it. 

She put her arm again into mine, and walked on with me 
slowly. I felt her hand tightening its grasp mechanically 
on my arm and I saw her getting paler and paler as I went 
on ; but not a word passed her lips while I was speaking. 
When I had done, she still kept silence. Her head drooped 
a little, and she walked by my side, unconscious of my pres- 
ence, unconscious of every thing about her; lost — buried, I 
might almost say — in her own thoughts. 

I made no attempt to disturb her. My experience of her 
disposition warned me, on this, as on former occasions, to 
give her time. 

The first instinct of girls in general, on being told of any 
thing which interests them, is to ask a multitude of questions, 
and then to run ofif, and talk it all over with some favorite 
friend. Rachel Verinder's first instinct, under similar cir- 
cumstances, was to shut herself up in her own mind, and to 
think it over by herself. This absolute self-dependence is a 
great virtue in a man. In a woman, it has the serious draw- 
back of morally separating her from the mass of her sex, and 
so exposing her to misconstruction by the general opinion. 
I strongly suspect myself of thinking as the rest of the world 
think in this matter — except in the case of Rachel Verinder. 
The self-dependence in her character was one of its virtues, 

300 



THE MOONSTONE 

in my estimation ; partly, no doubt, because I sincerely ad- 
mired and liked her; partly, because the view I took of her 
connection with the loss of the Moonstone was based on my 
own special knowledge of her disposition. Badly as appear- 
ances might look in the matter of the Diamond — shocking as 
it undoubtedly was to know that she was associated in any 
way with the mystery of an undiscovered theft — I was satis- 
fied, nevertheless, that she had done nothing unworthy of 
her, because I was also satisfied that she had not stirred a 
step in the business, without shutting herself up in her own 
mind and thinking it over first. 

We had walked on, for nearly a mile I should think, before 
Rachel roused herself. She suddenly looked up at me with 
a faint reflection of her smile of happier times — the most irre- 
sistible smile I had ever seen on a woman's face. 

"I owe much already to your kindness," she said. "And I 
feel more deeply indebted to it now than ever. If you hear 
any rumors of my marriage when you go back to London, 
contradict them at once, on my authority." 

"Have you resolved to break your engagement?" I asked. 

"Can you doubt it?" she returned, proudly, "after what 
you have told me !" 

"My dear Miss Rachel, you are very young — and you may 
find more difficulty in withdrawing from your present posi- 
tion than you anticipate. Have you no one — I mean a lady 
of course — whom you could consult?" 

"No one," she answered. 

It distressed me, it did indeed distress me, to hear her say 
that. She was so young and so lonely — and she bore it so 
well ! The impulse to help her got the better of any sense 
of my own unfitness which I might have felt under the cir- 
cumstances ; and I stated such ideas on the subject as occurred 
to me on the spur of the moment, to the best of my ability. 
I have advised a prodigious number of clients, and have dealt 
with some exceedingly awkward difficulties, in my time. But 
this was the first occasion on which I had ever found myself 
advising a young lady how to obtain her release from a mar- 
riage engagement. The suggestion I oflfered amounted briefly 
to this. I recommended her to tell Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite — 
at a private interview, of course — that he had, to her certain 

301 



THE MOONSTONE 

knowledge, betrayed the mercenary nature of the motive on 
his side. She was then to add that their marriage, after what 
she had discovered, was a simple impossibiHty — and she was 
to put it to him, whether he thought it wisest to secure her 
silence by falling in with her views, or to force her, by oppos- 
ing them, to make the motive under which she -was acting 
generally known. If he attempted to defend himself, or to 
deny the facts, she was, in that event, to refer him to me. 

Miss Verinder listened attentively till I had done. She 
then thanked me very prettily for my advice, but informed 
me at the same time that it was impossible for her to fol- 
low it. 

"May I ask," I said, "what objection you see to follow- 
ing it?" 

She hesitated — and then met me with a question on her 
side. 

"Suppose you were asked to express your opinion of Mr. 
Godfrey Ablewhite's conduct?" she began. 

"Yes ?" 

"What would you call it?" 

"I should call it the conduct of a meanly deceitful man." 

"Mr. Bruff! I have believed in that man. I have prom- 
ised to marry that man. How can I tell him he is mean, 
how can I tell him he has deceived me, how can I disgrace 
him in the eyes of the world, after that? I have degraded 
myself by ever thinking of him as my husband. If I say 
what you tell me to say to him — I am owning that I have 
degraded myself to his face. I can't do that — after what 
has passed between us — I can't do that ! The shame of it 
would be nothing to him. But the shame of it would be un- 
endurable to me." 

Here was another of the marked peculiarities in her char- 
acter disclosing itself to me without reserve. Here was her 
sensitive horror of the bare contact with any thing mean, 
blinding her to every consideration of what she owed to her- 
self, hurrying her into a false position which might compro- 
mise her in the estimation of all her friends ! Up to this 
time I had been a little diffident about the propriety of the 
advice I had given to her. But, after what she had just 
said, I had no sort of dot.bt that it was the best advice that 

302 



THE MOONSTONE 

could have been offered ; and I felt no sort of hesitation in 
pressing it on her again. 

She only shook her head and repeated her objection in 
other words. 

"He has been intimate enough with me to ask me to be 
his wife. He has stood high enough in my estimation to 
obtain my consent. I can't tell him to his face that he is 
the most contemptible of living creatures, after that !" 

"But, my dear Miss Rachel," I remonstrated, "it's equally 
impossible for you to tell him that you withdraw from your 
engagement, without giving some reason for it." 

"I shall say that I have thought it over and that I am 
satisfied it will be best for both of us if we part." 

"No more than that?" 

"No more." 

"Have you thought of what he may say, on his side?" 

"He may say what he pleases." 

It was impossible not to admire her delicacy and her reso- 
lution and it was equally impossible not to feel that she was 
putting herself in the wrong. I entreated her to consider 
her own position. I reminded her that she would be exposing 
herself to the most odious misconstruction of her motives. 
"You can't brave public opinion," I said, "at the command 
of private feeling." 

"I can," she answered. "I have done it already." 

"What do you mean?" 

"You have forgotten the Moonstone, Mr. Bruff. Have I 
not braved public opinion, there, with my own private rea- 
sons for it?" 

Her answer silenced me for the moment. It set me trying 
to trace the explanation of her conduct, at the time of the 
loss of the Moonstone, out of the strange avowal which had 
just escaped her. I might perhaps have done it when I was 
younger. I certainly couldn't do it now. 

I tried a last remonstrance, before we returned to the 
house. She was just as immovable as ever. My mind was 
in a strange conflict of feelings about her when I left her 
that day. She was obstinate ; she was wrong. She was in- 
teresting ; she was admirable ; she was deeply to be pitied. 
I made her promise to write to me the moment she had any 

303 



THE MOONSTONE 

news to send. And I went back to my business in London, 
with a mind exceedingly ill at ease. 

On the evening of my return, before it was possible for 
me to receive my promised letter, I was surprised by a visit 
from Mr. Ablewhite the elder, and was informed that Mr. 
Godfrey had got his dismissal — and had accepted it — that 
very day. 

With the view I already took of the case, the bare fact 
stated in the words that I have underlined, revealed Mr. God- 
frey Ablewhite's motive for submission as plainly as if he had 
acknowledged it himself. He needed a large sum of money ; 
and he needed it by a given time. Rachel's income, which 
would have helped him to any thing else, would not help him 
here ; and Rachel had accordingly released herself, without 
encountering a moment's serious opposition on his part. If 
I am told that this is mere speculation, I ask, in my turn. 
What other theory will account for his giving up a marriage 
which would have maintained him in splendor for the rest 
of his life? 

Any exultation I might otherwise have felt at the lucky 
turn which things had now taken was effectually checked by 
what passed at my interview with old Mr. Ablewhite. 

He came, of course, to know whether I could give him any 
explanation of Miss Verinder's extraordinary conduct. It is 
needless to say that I was quite unable to afford him the in- 
formation he wanted. The annoyance which I thus inflicted, 
following on the irritation produced by a recent interview 
with his son, threw Mr. Ablewhite off his guard. Both his 
looks and his language convinced me that Miss Verinder 
would find him a merciless man to deal with, when he joined 
the ladies at Brighton the next day. 

I had a restless night, considering what I ought to do next. 
How many reflections ended, and how thoroughly well found- 
ed my distrust of old Mr, Ablewhite proved to be, are 
items of information which, as I am told, have already been 
put tidily in their proper places by that exemplary person. 
Miss Clack. I have only to add — in completion of her narra- 
tive — that Miss Verinder found a quiet and repose which she 
sadly needed, poor thing, in my house at Hampstead. She 
honored us by making a long stay. My wife and daughters 

304 



THE MOONSTONE 

were charmed with her; and, when the executors decided 
on the appointment of a new guardian, I feel sincere pride 
and pleasure in recording that my guest and my family parted 
like old friends, on either side. 



CHAPTER H. 



THE next thing I have to do, is to present such additional 
information as I possess on the subject of the Moon- 
stone, or, to speak more correctly, on the subject of the Indian 
plot to steal the Diamond. The little that I have to tell is, 
as I think I have already said, of some importance, never- 
theless, in respect of its bearing very remarkably on events 
which are still to come. 

About a week or ten days after Miss Verinder had left us, 
one of my clerks entered the private room at my office, with 
a card in his hand, and informed me that a gentleman was 
below who wanted to speak to me. 

I looked at the card. There was a foreign name written 
on it, which has escaped my memory. It was followed by a 
line written in English at the bottom of the card, which I 
remember perfectly well : 

"Recommended by Mr. Septimus Luker." 

The audacity of a person in Mr. Luker's position presum- 
ing to recommend any body to me, took me so completely 
by surprise, that I sat silent for the moment, wondering 
whether my own eyes had not deceived me. The clerk, ob- 
serving my bewilderment, favored me with the result of his 
own observation of the stranger who was waiting down 
stairs. 

"He's rather a remarkable-looking man, sir. So dark in 
the complexion that we all set him down in the office for an 
Indian, or something of that sort." 

Associating the clerk's idea with the very offensive line 
inscribed on the card in my hand, I instantly suspected that 
the Moonstone was at the bottom of Mr. Luker's recommen- 
dation and of the stranger's visit at mv office. To the astonish- 



20 



305 



THE MOONSTONE 

ment of my clerk, I at once decided on granting an interview 
to the gentleman below. 

In justification of the highly unprofessional sacrifice to 
mere curiosity which I thus made, permit me to remind any 
body who may read these lines, that no living person, in 
England, at any rate, can claim to have had such an intimate 
connection with the romance of the Indian Diamond as mine 
has been. I was trusted with the secret of Colonel Hern- 
castle's plan for escaping assassination. I received the Col- 
onel's letters, periodically reporting himself a living man. 
I drew his will, leaving the Moonstone to Miss Verinder. I 
persuaded his executor to act, on the chance that the jewel 
might prove to be a valuable acquisition to the family. And, 
lastly, I combated Mr. Franklin Blake's scruples and induced 
him to be the means of transporting the Diamond to Lady 
Verinder's house. If any one can claim a prescriptive right 
of interest in the Moonstone and in every thing connected 
with it, I think it is hardly to be denied that I am the man. 

The moment my mysterious client was shown in I felt an 
inner conviction that I was in the presence of one of the 
three Indians — probably of the chief. He was carefully 
dressed in European costume. But his swarthy complexion, 
his long lithe figure, and his grave and graceful politeness 
of manner, were enough to betray his Oriental origin to any 
intelligent eyes that looked at him. 

I pointed to a chair, and begged to be informed of the 
nature of his business with me. 

After first apologizing — in an excellent selection of English 
words — for the liberty which he had taken in disturbing me, 
the Indian prgduced a small parcel the outer covering of 
which was of cloth of gold. Removing this and a second 
wrapping of some silken fabric, he placed a little box, or 
casket, on my table, most beautifully and richly inlaid in 
jewels on an ebony ground. 

'T have come, sir," he said, "to ask you to lend me some 
money. And I leave this as an assurance to you that my 
debt will be paid back." 

I pointed to his card. "And you apply to me," I rejoined, 
"at Mr. Luker's recommendation?" 

The Indian bowed. 

306 



THE MOONSTONE 

"May I ask how it is that Mr. Luker himself did not ad- 
vance the money that you require?" 

"Mr. Luker informed me, sir, that he had no money to 
lend." 

"And so he recommended you to come to me?" 

The Indian, in his turn, pointed to the card. "It is written 
there," he said. 

Briefly answered, and thoroughly to the purpose ! If the 
Moonstone had been in my possession, this Oriental gentle- 
man would have murdered me, I am well aware, without a 
moment's hesitation. At the same time, and barring that 
slight drawback, I am bound to testify that he was the perfect 
model of a client. He might not have respected my life. But 
he did what none of my own countrymen had ever done in 
all my experience of them — he respected my time. 

"I am sorry," I said, "that you should have had the trouble 
of coming to me. Mr. Luker is quite mistaken in sending 
you here. I am trusted, like other men of my profession, 
with money to lend. But I never lend it to strangers and I 
never lend it on such a security as you have produced." 

Far from attempting, as other people would have done, to 
induce me to relax my own rules, the Indian only made me 
another bow, and wrapped up his box in its two coverings 
without a word of protest. He rose — this admirable assassin 
rose to go, the moment I had answered him ! 

"Will your condescension toward a stranger excuse my 
asking one question," he said, "before I take my leave ?" 

I bowed on my side. Only one question at parting! The 
average in my experience was fifty. 

"Supposing, sir, it had been possible, and customary, for 
you to lend me the money," he said, "in what space of time 
would it have been possible, and customarv, for me to pav 
it back ?" 

"According to the usual course pursued in this country," 
I answered, "you would have been entitled to pay the money 
back, if you liked, in one year's time from the date at which 
it was first advanced to you." 

The Indian made me a last bow, the lowest of all, and sud- 
denly and softly walked out of the room. 

It was done in a moment, in a noiseless, supple, cat-like 

307 



THE MOONSTONE 

way, which a Httle startled me, I own. As soon as I was 
composed enough to think, I arrived at one distinct conclu- 
sion in reference to the otherwise incomprehensible visitor 
who had favored me with a call. 

His face, voice, and manner — while I was in his company 
— were under such perfect control that they set all scrutiny 
at defiance. But he had given me one chance of looking 
under the smooth outer surface of him, for all that. He had 
not shown the slightest sign of attempting to fix any thing 
that I had said to him in his mind, until I mentioned the time 
at which it was customary to permit the earliest repayment, 
on the part of the debtor, of money that had been advanced 
as a loan. When I gave him that piece of information, he 
looked me straight in the face, while I was speaking, for the 
first time. The inference I drew from this was, that he had 
a special purpose in asking me his last question, and a special 
interest in hearing my answer to it. The more carefully I 
reflected on what had passed between us, the more shrewdly 
I suspected the production of the casket, and the application 
for the loan, of having been mere formalities, designed to 
pave the way for the parting inquiry addressed to me. 

I had satisfied myself of the correctness of this conclusion 
— and was trying to get on a step farther and penetrate the 
Indian's motives next — when a letter was brought to me, 
which proved to be from no less a person than Mr. Septimus 
Luker himself. He asked my pardon in terms of sickening 
servility, and assured me that he could explain matters to my 
satisfaction, if I would honor him by consenting to a personal 
interview. 

I made another unprofessional sacrifice to mere curiosity. 
I honored him by making an appointment at my office, for 
the next day. 

Mr. Luker was, in every respect, such an inferior creature 
to the Indian — he was so vulgar, so ugly, so cringing, and so 
prosy — that he is quite unworthy of being reported, at any 
length, in these pages. The substance of what he had to tell 
me may be fairly stated as follows : 

The day before I had received the visit of the Indian, ]\Ir. 
Luker had been favored with a call from that accomplished 
gentleman. In spite of his European disguise, Mr. Luker had 

308 



THE MOONSTONE 

instantly identified his visitor with the chief of the three 
Indians, who had formerly annoyed him by loitering about 
his house, and who had left him no alternative but to consult 
a magistrate. From this startling discovery he had rushed to 
the conclusion, naturally enough I own, that he must cer- 
tainly be in the company of one of the three men who had 
blindfolded him, gagged him, and robbed him of his banker's 
receipt. The result was that he became quite paralyzed with 
terror, and that he firmly believed his last hour had come. 

On his side, the Indian preserved the character of a perfect 
stranger. He produced the little casket and made exactly 
the same application which he had afterward made to me. 
As the speediest way of getting rid of him, Mr. Luker had 
at once declared that he had no money. The Indian had 
thereupon asked to be informed of the best and safest person 
to apply to for the loan he wanted. Mr. Luker had answered 
that the best and safest person, in such cases, was usually a 
respectable solicitor. Asked to name some one individual 
of that character and profession, Mr. Luker had mentioned 
me — for the one simple reason that, in the extremity of his 
terror, mine was the first name which occurred to him. "The 
perspiration was pouring off me like rain, sir," the wretched 
creature concluded. "I didn't know what I was talking about. 
And I hope you'll look over it, Mr, Brufif, sir, in considera- 
tion of my having been really and truly frightened out of 
my wits." 

I excused the fellow graciously enough. It was the readiest 
way of releasing myself from the sight of him. Before he 
left me I detained him to make one inquiry. Had the Indian 
said any thing noticeable at the moment of quitting Mr. 
Luker's house? 

Yes ! The Indian had put precisely the same question to 
Mr. Luker, at parting, which he had put to me ; receiving, of 
course, the same answer as the answer which I had given to 
him. 

What did it mean? Mr, Luker's explanation gave me no 
assistance toward solving the problem. My own unaided 
ingenuity, consulted next, proved quite unequal to grapple 
with the difficulty. I had a dinner engagement that evening ; 
and I went up stairs in no very genial frame of mind, little 

3©9 



THE MOONSTONE 

suspecting that the way to my dressing-room, and the way 
to discovery, meant, on this particular occasion, one and the 
same thing. 



CHAPTER HI. 

THE prominent personage among the guests at the dinner 
party I found to be Mr. Murthwaite. 

On his appearance in England, some months since, society 
had been greatly interested in the traveler, as a man who had 
passed through many dangerous adventures and who had 
escaped to tell the tale. He had now announced his intention 
of returning to the scene of his exploits and of penetrating 
into regions left still unexplored. This magnificent indiffer- 
ence to presuming on his luck and to placing his safety in 
peril for the second time, revived the flagging interest of the 
worshipers in the hero. The law of chances was clearly 
against his escaping on this occasion. It is not every day 
that we can meet an eminent person at dinner and feel that 
there is a reasonable prospect of the news of his murder being 
the news that we hear of him next. 

When the gentlemen were left by themselves in the dining- 
room, I found myself sitting next to Mr. Murthwaite. The 
guests present being all English, it is needless to say that, as 
soon as the wholesome check exercised by the presence of 
the ladies was removed, the conversation turned on politics as 
a necessary result. 

In respect to this all-absorbing national topic, I happen to 
be one of the most un-English Englishmen living. As a 
general rule, political talk appears to me to be of all talk 
the most dreary and the most profitless. Glancing at Mr. 
Murthwaite, when the bottles had made their first round of 
the table, I found that he was apparently of my way of think- 
ing. He was doing it very dexterously — with all possible 
consideration for the feelings of the host — but it is not the 
less certain that he was composing himself for a nap. It 
struck me as an experiment worth attempting, to try whether 
a judicious allusion to the subject of the Moonstone would 
keep him awake, and, if it did, to see what he thought of the 

310 



THE MOONSTONE 

last new complication in the Indian conspiracy, as revealed 
in the prosaic precincts of my office. 

"If I am not mistaken, Mr. Murthwaite," I began, "you 
were acquainted with the late Lady Verinder, and you took 
some interest in the strange succession of events w^hich ended 
in the loss of the Moonstone ?" 

The eminent traveler did me the honor of waking up in an 
instant, and asking me who I was. 

I informed him of my professional connection with the 
Herncastle family, not forgetting the curious position which 
I had occupied toward the Colonel and his Diamond in the 
by-gone time. 

]\Ir. Murthwaite shifted round in his chair, so as to put 
the rest of the company behind him. Conservatives and Lib- 
erals alike, and concentrated his whole attention on plain 
Mr. Bruff, of Gray's Inn Square. 

"Have you heard any thing lately of the Indians?" he 
asked. 

"I have every reason to believe," I answered, "that one 
of them had an interview with me, in my office, yesterday." 

Mr. Murthwaite was not an easy man to astonish ; but that 
last answer of mine completely staggered him. I described 
what had happened to Mr. Luker and what had happened 
to myself, exactly as I have described it here. "It is clear 
that the Indian's parting inquiry had an object," I added. 
"Why should he be so anxious to know the time at which 
a borrower of money is usuallv privileged to pav the monev 
back?" 

"Is it possible that you don't see his motive, Mr. BrufT?" 

"I am ashamed of my stupidity, Mr. Murthw^aite — but I 
certainly don't see it." 

The great traveler became quite interested in sounding 
the immense vacuity of my dullness to its lowest depths. 

"Let me ask you one question," he said. "In what posi- 
tion does the conspiracy to seize the Moonstone now stand?" 

"I can't say," I answered. "The Indian plot is a mystery 
to me." 

"The Indian plot, Mr. Bruff, can only be a mystery to 
you, because you have never seriously examined it. Shall 
we run it over together, from the time when you drew Col- 

311 



THE MOONSTONE 

onel Herncastle's will, to the time when the Indian called 
at your office? In your position, it may be of very serious 
importance to the interests of Miss Verindcr that you should 
be able to take a clear view of this matter in case of need. 
Tell me, bearing that in mind, whether you will penetrate 
the Indian's motive for yourself? or whether you wish me to 
save you the trouble of making any inquiry into it?" 

It is needless to say that I thoroughly appreciated the 
practical purpose which I now saw that he had in view, 
and that the first of the two alternatives was the alternative 
I chose. 

"Very good," said Mr. Murthwaite. "We will take the 
question of the ages of the three Indians first. I can testify 
that they all look much about the same age — and you can 
decide for yourself whether the man whom you saw was, or 
was not, in the prime of life. Not forty, you think? My 
idea too. We will say not forty. Now look back at the 
time when Colonel Herncastle came to England, and when 
you were concerned in the plan he adopted to preserve his 
life. I don't want you to count the years. I will only say, 
it is clear that these present Indians, at their age, must be 
the successors of three other Indians — high-caste Brahmans 
all of them, Mr. Brufif, when they left their native country ! 
— who followed the Colonel to these shores. Very well. 
These present men of ours have succeeded to the men who 
were here before them. If they had only done that, the mat- 
ter would not have been worth inquiring into. But they have 
done more. They have succeeded to the organization which 
their predecessors established in this country. Don't start ! 
The organization is a very trumpery affair, according to our 
ideas, I have no doubt. I should reckon it up as including 
the command of money ; the services, when needed, of that 
shady sort of Englishman, who lives in the byways of foreign 
life in London ; and, lastly, the secret sympathy of such few 
men of their own country and, formerly, at least, of their 
own religion, as happen to be employed in ministering to some 
of the multitudinous wants of this great city. Nothing very 
formidable, as you see ! But worth notice at starting, because 
we may find occasion to refer to the modest little Indian 
organization as we go on. Having now cleared the ground, I 

313 



THE MOONSTONE 

« 

am going to ask you a question ; and I expect your experience 
to answer it. What was the event which gave the Indians 
their first chance of seizing the Diamond ?" 

I understood the allusion to my experience. 

"The first chance they got," I replied, "was clearly offered 
to them by Colonel Herncastle's death. They would be aware 
of his death, I suppose, as a matter of course?" 

"As a matter of course. And his death, as you say, gave 
them their first chance. Up to that time the Moonstone was 
safe in the strong-room of the bank. You drew the Colonel's 
will leaving his jewel to his niece; and the will was proved 
in the usual way. As a lawyer, you can be at no loss to know 
what course the Indians would take, under English advice, 
after that:' 

"They would provide themselves with a copy of the will 
from Doctors' Commons," I said. 

"Exactly. One or other of those shady Englishmen to 
whom I have alluded would get them the copy you have de- 
scribed. That copy would inform them that the Moonstone 
was bequeathed to the daughter of Lady Verinder, and that 
Mr. Blake the elder, or some person appointed by him, was 
to place it in her hands. You will agree with me that the 
necessary information about persons in the position of Lady 
Verinder and Mr. Blake would be perfectly easy information 
to obtain. The one difficulty for the Indians would be to 
decide, whether they should make their attempt on the Dia- 
mond when it was in course of removal from the keeping of 
the bank or whether they should wait until it was taken down 
to Yorkshire, to Lady Verinder's house. The second way 
would be manifestly the safest way — and there you have the 
explanation of the appearance of the Indians at Frizinghall, 
disguised as jugglers, and waiting their time. In London, 
it is needless to say, they had their organization at their dis- 
posal to keep them informed of events. Two men would do 
it. One to follow any body who went from Mr. Blake's 
house to the bank. And one to treat the lower men-servants 
with beer and to hear the news of the house. These common- 
place precautions would readily inform them that Mr. Frank- 
lin Blake had been to the bank and that ]\Tr. Franklin Blake 
was the only person in the house who was going to visit Lady 



THE MOONSTONE 

Verinder. What actually followed upon that discovery, you 
remember, no doubt, quite as correctly as I do." 

I remembered that Franklin Blake had detected one of the 
spies in the street — that he had, in consequence, advanced 
the time of his arrival in Yorkshire by some hours — and that, 
thanks to old Betteredge's excellent advice, he had lodged 
the Diamond in the bank at Frizinghall before the Indians 
were so much as prepared to see him in the neighborhood. 
All perfectly clear so far. But, the Indians being ignorant 
of the precaution thus taken, how was it that they had made 
no attempt on Lady Verinder's house, in which they must 
have supposed the Diamond to be, through the whole of the 
interval that elapsed before Rachel's birthday? 

In putting this difficulty to Mr. Murthwaite, I thought it 
right to add that I had heard of the little boy and 
the drop of ink and the rest of it, and that any explana- 
tion based on the theory of clairvoyance was an explana- 
tion which would carry no conviction whatever with it, to my 
mind. 

"Nor to mine either," said Mr. Murthwaite. "The clair- 
voyance in this case is simply a development of the romantic 
side of the Indian character. It would be a refreshment and 
an encouragement to those men — quite inconceivable, I grant 
you, to the English mind — to surround their wearisome and 
perilous errand in this country with a certain halo of the 
marvelous and the supernatural. Their boy is unquestion- 
ably a sensitive subject to the mesmeric influence — and, under 
that influence, he has no doubt reflected what was already in 
the mind of the person mesmerizing him. I have tested the 
theory of clairvoyance, and I have never found the manifes- 
tations get beyond that point. The Indians don't investigate 
the matter in this way ; the Indians look upon their boy as a 
seer of things invisible to their eyes — and, I repeat, in that 
marvel they find the source of a new interest in the purpose 
that unites them. I only notice this as offering a curious view 
of human character, which must be quite new to you. We 
have nothing whatever to do with clairvoyance, or with mes- 
merism, or with any thing else that is hard of belief to a 
practical man, in the inquiry that we are now pursuing. My 
object in following the Indian plot, step by step, is to trace 

3H 



THE MOONSTONE 

results back, by rational means, to natural causes. Have I 
succeeded to your satisfaction, so far?" 

"Not a doubt of it, Mr. Murthwaite ! I am waiting, how- 
ever, with some anxiety to hear the rational explanation of 
the difficulty which I have just had the honor of submitting 
to you." 

Mr. Murthwaite smiled. "It's the easiest difficulty to deal 
with of all," he said. "Permit me to begin by admitting your 
statement of the case as a perfectly correct one. The Indians 
were undoubtedly not aware of what Mr. Franklin Blake had 
done with the Diamond — for we find them making their first 
mistake, on the first night of Mr. Blake's arrival at his aunt's 
house." 

"Their first mistake?" I repeated. 

"Certainly ! The mistake of allowing themselves to be 
surprised, lurking about the terrace at night, by Gabriel Bet- 
teredge. However, they had the merit of seeing for them- 
selves that they had taken a false step — for, as you say, again, 
with plenty of time at their disposal, they never came near 
the house for weeks afterward." 

"Why, Mr. Murthwaite? That's what I want to know. 
Why?" 

"Because no Indian, Mr. Bruff, ever runs an unnecessary 
risk. The clause you drew in Colonel Herncastle's will, in- 
formed them — didn't it? — that the Moonstone was to pass 
absolutely into Miss Verinder's possession on her birthday. 
Very well. Tell me which was the safest course for men in 
their position ? To make their attempt on the Diamond while 
it was under the control of Mr. Franklin Blake, who had 
shown already that he could suspect and outwit them, or to 
wait till the Diamond was at the disposal of a young girl, 
who would innocently delight in wearing the magnificent 
jewel at every possible opportunity? Perhaps you want a 
proof that my theory is correct? Take the conduct of the 
Indians themselves as the proof. They appeared at the house, 
after waiting all those weeks, on Miss Verinder's birthday ; 
and they were rewarded for the patient accuracy of their cal- 
culations by seeing the Moonstone in the bosom of her dress ! 
When I heard the story of the Colonel and the Diamond, 
later in the evening, I felt so sure about the risk Mr. Franklin 

315 



THE MOONSTONE 

Blake had run — they would have certainly attacked him, if 
he had not happened to ride back to Lady Verinder's in the 
company of other people — and I was so strongly convinced 
of the worse risks still in store for Miss Verindcr, that I 
recommended following the Colonel's plan, and destroying 
the identity of the gem by having it cut into separate stones. 
How its extraordinary disappearance, that night, made my 
advice useless and utterly defeated the Hindoo plot — and how 
all further action on the part of the Indians was paralyzcfl 
the next day by their confinement in prison as rogues and 
vagabonds — you know as well as I do. The first act in the 
conspiracy closes there. Before we go on to the second, may 
I ask whether I have met your difficulty with an explanation 
which is satisfactory to the mind of a practical man ?" 

It was impossible to deny that he had met my difficulty 
fairly; thanks to his superior knowledge of the Indian char- 
acter — and thanks to his not having hundreds of other wills 
to think of since Colonel Herncastle's time ! 

"So far, so good," resumed Mr. Murthwaite. "The first 
chance the Indians had of seizing the Diamond was a chance 
lost, on the day when they were committed to the prison at 
Frizinghall. When did the second chance offer itself? The 
second chance offered itself — as I am in a condition to prove 
— while they were still in confinement." 

He took out his pocket-book, and opened it at a particular 
leaf, before he went on. 

"I was staying," he resumed, "with some friends at Friz- 
inghall at the time. A day or two before the Indians were 
set free, on a Monday, I think, the governor of the prison 
came to me with a letter. It had been left for the Indians 
by one Mrs. Macann, of whom they had hired the lodging in 
which they lived ; and it had been delivered at Mrs. Macann's 
door, in ordinary course of post, on the previous morning. 
The prison authorities had noticed that the post-mark was 
'Lambeth,' and that the address on the outside, though ex- 
pressed in correct English, was, in form, oddly at variance 
with the customary method of directing a letter. On opening 
it, they had found the contents to be written in a foreign lan- 
guage, which they rightly guessed at as Hindoostanee. Their 
object in coming to me was, of course, to have the letter 

316 



THE MOONSTONE 

translated to them. I took a copy in my pocket-book of the 
original and of my translation — and there they are at your 
service." 

He handed me the open pocket-book. The address on the 
letter was the first thing copied. It was all written in one 
paragraph, without any attempt at punctuation, thus : "To 
the three Indian men living with the lady called IMacann at 
Frizinghall in Yorkshire." The Hindoo characters followed ; 
and the English translation appeared at the end, expressed 
in these mysterious words : 

'Tn the name of the Regent of the Night, whose seat is 
on the Antelope, whose arms embrace the four corners of the 
earth. 

"Brothers, turn your faces to the south, and come to me 
in the street of many noises, which leads down to the muddy 
river. 

"The reason is this. 

"My own eyes have seen it." 

There the letter ended, without either date or signature. 
I handed it back to Mr. Murthwaite and owned that this 
curious specimen of Hindoo correspondence rather puzzled 
me. 

"I can explain the first sentence to you," he said ; "and the 
conduct of the Indians themselves will explain the rest. The 
god of the moon is represented, in the Hindoo mythology, as 
a four-armed deity, seated on an antelope ; and one of his 
titles is the regent of the night. Here, then, to begin with, 
is something which looks suspiciously like an indirect refer- 
ence to the Moonstone. Now, let us see what the Indians 
did, after the prison authorities had allowed them to receive 
their letter. On the very day when they were set free they 
went at once to the railway station, and took their places in 
the first train that started for London. We all thought it 
a pity at Frizinghall that their proceedings were not privately 
watched. But, after Lady Verinder had dismissed the police 
officer and had stopped all further inquiry into the loss of 
the Diamond, no one else could presume to stir in the matter. 
The Indians were free to go to London, and to London they 
went. What was the next news we heard of them, Mr. 
Bruflf?" 

317 



THE MOONSTONE 

"They were annoying Mr. Luker," I answered, "by loiter- 
ing about his house at Lambeth." 

"Did you read the report of Mr. Luker's appHcation to 
the magistrate?" 

"Yes." 

"In the course of his statement he referred, if you remem- 
ber, to a foreign workman in his employment, whom he had 
just dismissed on suspicion of attempted theft, and whom 
he also distrusted as possibly acting in collusion with the 
Indians who had annoyed him. The inference is pretty plain, 
Mr. Brufif, as to who wrote that letter which puzzled you 
just now and as to which of Mr. Luker's Oriental treasures 
the workman had attempted to steal." 

The inference, as I hastened to acknowledge, was too plain 
to need being pointed out. I had never doubted that the 
Moonstone had found its way into Mr. Luker's hands at the 
time to which Mr. Murthwaite alluded. My only question 
had been, How had the Indians discovered the circumstance? 
This question — ihe most difficult to deal with of all, as I 
had thought — had now received its answer, like the rest. 
Lawyer as I was, I began to feel that I might trust Mr. 
Murthwaite to lead me blindfold through the last windings 
of the labyrinth, along which he had guided me thus far. I 
paid him the compliment of telling him this and found my 
little concession very graciously received. 

"You shall give me a piece of information in your turn 
before we go on," he said. "Somebody must have taken the 
Moonstone from Yorkshire to London. And somebody must 
have raised money on it, or it would never have been in ]\Ir. 
Luker's possession. Has there been any discovery made of 
who that person was?" 

"None that I know of." 

"There was a story, was there not, about Mr. Godfrey 
Ablewhite? I am told he is an eminent philanthropist — 
which is decidedly against him, to begin with." 

I heartily agreed in this with Mr. Murthwaite. At the 
same time I felt bound to inform him, without, it is needless 
to say, mentioning Miss Verinder's name, that Mr. Godfrey 
Ablewhite had been cleared of all suspicion, on evidence 
which I could answer for as entirely beyond dispute. 

318 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Very well," said Mr. Murthwaite, quietly, "let us leave 
it to time to clear the matter up. In the mean while, Mr. 
Bruff, we must get back again to the Indians, on your account. 
Their journey to London simply ended in their becoming the 
victims of another defeat. The loss of their second chance 
of seizing the Diamond is mainly attributable, as I think, to 
the cunning and foresight of Mr. Luker — who doesn't stand 
at the top of the prosperous and ancient profession of usury 
for nothing! By the prompt dismissal of the man in his em- 
ployment, he deprived the Indians of the assistance which 
their confederate would have rendered them in getting into 
the house. By the prompt transport of the Moonstone to his 
banker's, he took the conspirators by surprise before they 
were prepared with a new plan for robbing him. How the 
Indians, in this latter case, suspected what he had done and 
how they contrived to possess themselves of his banker's re- 
ceipt, are events too recent to need dwelling on. Let it be 
enough to say that they know the Moonstone to be once more 
out of their reach ; deposited, under the general description 
of 'a. valuable gem,' in a banker's strong-room. Now, Mr. 
Bruff, what is their third chance of seizing the Diamond ? and 
when will it come?" 

As the question passed his lips, I penetrated the motive of 
the Indian's visit to my office at last ! 

"I see it !" I exclaimed. "The Indians take it for granted 
as we do, that the Moonstone has been pledged : and they 
want to be certainly informed of the earliest period at which 
the pledge can be redeemed — because that will be the earliest 
period at which the Diamond can be removed from the safe- 
keeping of the bank !" 

"I told you you would find it out for yourself, IMr. BrufF, 
if I only gave you a fair chance. In a year from the time 
when the Moonstone was pledged, the Indians will be on the 
watch for their third chance. Mr. Luker's own lips have 
told them how long they will have to wait, and your respecta- 
ble authority has satisfied them that Mr. Luker has spoken 
the truth. When do we suppose, at a rough guess, that the 
Diamond found its way into the money-lender's hands ?" 

"Toward the end of last June," I answered, "as well as I 
can reckon it." 

319 



THE MOONSTONE 

"And we are now in the year 'forty-eight. Very good. If 
the unknown person who has pledged the Moonstone can re- 
deem it in a year, the jewel will be in that person's possession 
again at the end of June, 'forty-nine. I shall be thousands 
of miles away from England and English news at that date. 
But it may be worth yotir while to take a note of it, and to 
arrange to be in London at the time." 

"You think something serious will happen?" I said. 

"I think I shall be safer," he answered, "among the fiercest 
fanatics of Central Asia than I should be if I crossed the 
door of the bank with the Moonstone in my pocket. The 
Indians have been defeated twice running, Mr. Bruff. It's 
my firm belief that they won't be defeated a third time." 

Those were the last words he said on the subject. The 
cofifee came in ; the guests rose, and dispersed themselves 
around the room; and we joined the ladies of the dinner- 
party up stairs. 

I made a note of the date, and it may not be amiss if I 
close my narrative by repeating that note here : 

June, 'forty-nine. Expect news of the Indians, toward the 
end of the month. 

And that done, I hand the pen, which I have now no further 
claim to use, to the writer who follows me next. 



THIRD NARRATIVE 

Contributed by Franklin Blake. 



CHAPTER I. 



IN the spring of the year eighteen hundred and forty-nine I 
was wandering in the East, and had then recently altered 
the traveling plans which I had laid out some months before 
and which I had communicated to my lawyer and my banker 
in London. 

This change made it necessary for me to send one of my 

320 



THE MOONSTONE 

servants to obtain my letters and remittances from the Eng- 
lish consul in a certain city, which was no longer included 
as one of my resting-places in my new traveling scheme. The 
man was to join me again at an appointed place and time. 
An accident, for which he was not responsible, delayed him 
on his errand. For a week I and my people waited, en- 
camped on the borders of a desert. At the end of that time 
the missing man made his appearance, with the money and 
the letters, at the entrance of my tent. 

'T am afraid I bring you bad news, sir," he said, and 
pointed to one of the letters, which had a mourning border 
round it and the address on which was in the handwriting of 
Mr. Brufif. 

I know nothing, in a case of this kind, so unendurable as 
suspense. The letter with the mourning border was the letter 
that I opened first. 

It informed me that my father was dead and that I was 
heir to his great fortune. The wealth which had thus fallen 
into my hands brought its responsibilities with it ; and Mr. 
Brufif entreated me to lose no time in returning to England. 

By day-break the next morning I was on my way back to 
my own country. 

The picture presented of me by my old friend Betteredge, 
at the time of my departure from England, is, as I think, a 
little overdrawn. He has, in his own quaint way, interpreted 
seriously one of his young mistress's many satirical references 
to my foreign education; and has persuaded himself that he 
actually saw those French, German, and Italian sides to my 
character, which my lively cousin only professed to discover 
in jest, and which never had any real existence, except in our 
good Betteredge's own brain. But, barring the drawback, I 
am bound to own that he has stated no more than the truth 
in representing me as wounded to the heart by Rachel's treat- 
ment and as leaving England in the first keenness of suffering 
caused by the bitterest disappointment of my life. 

I went abroad, resolved — if change and absence could help 
me — to forget her. It is, I am persuaded, no true view of 
human nature which denies that change and absence do help 
a man under these circumstances : they force his attention 

21 321 



THE MOONSTONE 

away from the exclusive contemplation of his own sorrow. 
I never forgot her ; but the pang of remembrance lost its 
worst bitterness, little by little, as time, distance, and novelty 
interposed themselves more and more effectually between 
Rachel and me. 

On the other hand, it is no less certain that, with the act 
of turning homeward, the remedy which had gained its 
ground so steadily, began now, just as steadily, to drop back. 
The nearer I drew to the country which she inhabited and 
to the prospect of seeing her again, the more irresistibly her 
influence began to recover its hold on me. On leaving Eng- 
land, she was the last person in the world whose name I would 
have suffered to pass my lips. On returning to England, she 
was the first person I inquired after when Mr. Bruff and I 
met again. 

I was informed, of course, of all that had happened in my 
absence : in other words, of all that has been related here in 
continuation of Betteredge's narrative — one circumstance 
only being excepted. Mr. Bruff did not, at that time, feel 
himself at liberty to inform me of the motives which had 
privately influenced Rachel and Godfrey Ablewhite, in re- 
calling the marriage promise, on either side. I troubled him 
with no embarrassing questions on this delicate subject. It 
was relief enough to me, after the jealous disappointment 
caused by hearing that she had ever contemplated being God- 
frey's wife, to know that reflection had convicted her of acting 
rashly and that she had effected her own release from her 
marriage engagement. 

Having heard the story of the past, my next inquiries — 
still inquiries after Rachel ! — advanced naturally to the pres- 
ent time. Under whose care had she been placed after leaving 
Mr. Bruff's house? and where was she living now? 

She was living under the care of a widowed sister of the 
late Sir John Verinder — one Mrs. Merridew — whom her 
mother's executors had requested to act as guardian and who 
had accepted the proposal. They were reported to me as 
getting on together admirably well and as being now cstr^h- 
lished, for the season, in Mrs. Merridew's house in Portland 
Place. 

Half an hour after receiving this information I was on my 

322 



THE MOONSTONE 

way to Portland Place, without having had the courage to 
own it to Mr. Bruff! 

The man who answered the door was not sure whether 
Miss Verinder was at home or not. I sent him up stairs with 
my card, as the speediest way of setting the question at rest. 
The man came down again with an impenetrable face and 
informed me that Miss Verinder was out. I might have 
suspected other people of purposely denying themselves to 
me. But it was impossible to suspect Rachel. I left word 
that I would call again at six o'clock that evening. 

At six o'clock I was informed, for the second time, that 
Miss Verinder was not at home. Had any message been left 
for me? No message had been left for me. Had Miss Ver- 
inder not received my card? The servant begged my pardon 
— Miss Verinder had received it. 

The inference was too plain to be resisted. Rachel declined 
to see me. 

On my side I declined to be treated in this way without 
making an attempt, at least, to discover a reason for it. I 
sent up my name to Mrs. Merridew, and requested her to 
favor me with a personal interview at any hour which it 
might be most convenient to her to name. 

Mrs. Merridew made no difficulty about receiving me at 
once. I was shown into a comfortable little sitting-room, 
and found myself in the presence of a comfortable little elderly 
lady. She was so good as to feel great regret and much sur- 
prise, entirely on my account. She was at the same time, 
however, not in a position to offer me any explanation, or to 
press Rachel on a matter which appeared to relate to a ques- 
tion of private feeling alone. This was said over and over 
again, with a polite patience that nothing could tire ; and this 
was all I gained by applying to Mrs. Merridew. 

My last chance was to write to Rachel. My servant took 
a letter to her the next day, with strict instructions to wait 
for an answer. 

The answer came back, literally in one sentence. 

"IMiss Verinder begs to decline entering into any corre- 
spondence with Mr. Franklin Blake." 

Fond as I was of her, T felt indignantly the insult offered 
to me in that reply. Mr. Bruff came in to speak to me on 

3^3 



THE MOONSTONE 

business before I had recovered possession of myself. I dis- 
missed the business on the spot, and laid the whole case before 
him. He proved to be as incapable of enlightening me as 
Mrs. Merridew herself. I asked him if any slander had been 
spoken of me in Rachel's hearing. Mr. Bruff was not aware 
of any slander of which I was the object. Had she referred 
to me in any way while she was staying under Mr. BruflF's 
roof ? Never. Had she not so much as asked, during all my 
long absence, whether I was living or dead ? No such ques- 
tion had ever passed her lips. 

I took out of my pocket-book the letter which poor Lady 
Verinder had written to me from Frizinghall, on the day 
when I left her house in Yorkshire. And I pointed Mr. 
Bruff 's attention to these two sentences in it : 

"The valuable assistance which you rendered to the inquiry 
after the lost jewel is still an unpardoned offense, in the pres- 
ent dreadful state of Rachel's mind. Moving blindfold in 
this matter, you have added to the burden of anxiety which 
she has had to bear, by innocently threatening her secret with 
discovery through your exertions." 

"Is it possible," I asked, "that the feeling toward me which 
is there described is still as bitter as ever against me now?" 

Mr. Bruif looked unaffectedly distressed. 

"If you insist on an answer," he said, "I own I can place 
no other interpretation on her conduct than that." 

I rang the bell, and directed my servant to pack my port- 
manteau, and to send out for a railway guide. Mr. Bruff 
asked, in astonishment, what I was going to do. 

"I am going to Yorkshire," I answered, "by the next 
train." 

"May I ask for what purpose?" 

"Mr. Bruff, the assistance I innocently rendered to the in- 
quiry after the Diamond was an unpardoned offense in 
Rachel's mind, nearly a year since, and it remains an unpar- 
doned offense still. I won't accept that position ! I am deter- 
mined to find out the secret of her silence toward her mother, 
and her enmity toward me. If time, pains, and money can 
do it, I will lay my hand on the thief who took the Moon- 
stone !" 

The worthy old gentleman attempted to remonstrate — to 

324 



THE MOONSTONE 

induce me to listen to reason — to do his duty toward me, in 
short. I was deaf to every thing that he could urge. No 
earthly consideration would, at that moment, have shaken the 
resolution that was in me. 

"I shall take up the inquiry again," I went on, "at the 
point where I dropped it; and I shall follow it onward, step 
by step, till I come to the present time. There are missing 
links in the evidence, as / left it, which Gabriel Betteredge 
can supply. And to Gabriel Betteredge I go !" 

Toward sunset, that evening, I stood again on the well- 
remembered terrace, and looked once more at the peaceful 
old country house. The gardener was the first person whom 
I saw in the deserted grounds. He had left Betteredge, an 
hour since, sunning himself in the customary corner of the 
back yard. I knew it well ; and I said I would go and seek 
him myself. 

I walked round by the familiar paths and passages, and 
looked in at the open gate of the yard. 

There he was — the dear old friend of the happy days that 
were never to come again — there he was in the old corner, 
on the old bee-hive chair, with his pipe in his mouth, and his 
Robinson Crusoe on his lap, and his two friends, the dogs, 
dozing on either side of him ! In the position in which I stood, 
my shadow was projected in front of me by the last slanting 
rays of the sun. Either the dogs saw it, or their keen scent 
informed them of my approach. They started up with a 
growl. Starting in his turn, the old man quieted them by a 
word, and then shaded his failing eyes with his hand and 
looked inquiringly at the figure at the gate. 

My own eyes were full of tears. I was obliged to wait 
for a moment before I could trust myself to speak to him. 



CHAPTER II. 

BETTEREDGE!" I said, pointing to the well-remem- 
bered book on his knee, "has Robinson Crusoe informed 
you, this evening, that you might expect to see Franklin 
Blake?" 

325 



THE MOONSTONE 

"By the lord Harry, Mr. Franklin !" cried the old man, 
"that's exactly what Robinson Crusoe has done !" 

He struggled to his feet with my assistance and stood for 
a moment, looking backward and forward between Robinson 
Crusoe and me, apparently at a loss to discover which of us 
had surprised him most. The verdict ended in favor of the 
book. Holding it open before him in both hands, he sur- 
veyed the wonderful volume with a stare of unutterable 
anticipation — as if he expected to see Robinson Crusoe him- 
self walk out of the pages and favor us with a personal inter- 
view. 

"Here's the bit, Mr, Franklin !" he said, as soon as he had 
recovered the use of his speech. "As I live by bread, sir, 
here's the bit I was reading the moment before you came in ! 
Page one hundred and fifty-six as follows : T stood like one 
Thunderstruck, or as if I had seen an Apparition.' If that 
isn't as much as to say : 'Expect the sudden appearance of 
Mr. Franklin Blake' — there's no meaning in the English lan- 
guage !" said Betteredge, closing the book with a bang, and 
getting one of his hands free at last to take the hand which 
I offered him. 

I had expected him, naturally enough under the circum- 
stances, to overwhelm me with questions. But no — the hos- 
pitable impulse was the uppermost impulse in the old servant's 
mind, when a member of the family appeared, no matter how, 
as a visitor at the house. 

"Walk in, Mr. Franklin," he said, opening the door behind 
him, with his quaint old-fashioned bow. "Fll ask what brings 
you here afterward — I must make you comfortable first. 
There have been sad changes since you went away. The 
house is shut up, and the servants are gone. Never mind 
that ! Fll cook your dinner and the gardener's wife will make 
your bed — and if there's a bottle of our famous Latour claret 
left in the cellar, down your throat, Mr. Franklin, that bottle 
shall go. I bid you welcome, sir ! I bid you heartily wel- 
come!" said the poor old fellow, fighting manfully against 
the gloom of the deserted house, and receiving me with the 
sociable and courteous attention of the by-gone time. 

It vexed me to disappoint him. But the house was Rachel's 
house now. Could I eat in it or sleep in it after what had 

326 



THE MOONSTONE 

happened in London? The commonest sense of self-respect 
forbade me — properly forbade me — to cross the threshold. 

I took Betteredge by the arm and led him out into the 
garden. There was no help for it. I was obliged to tell him 
the truth. Between his attachment to Rachel and his attach- 
ment to me, he was sorely puzzled and distressed at the turn 
that things had taken. His opinion, when he expressed it, 
was given in his usual downright manner, and was agreeably 
redolent of the most positive philosophy I know — the philos- 
ophy of the Betteredge school. 

"Miss Rachel has her faults — I've never denied it," he be- 
gan. "And riding the high horse, now and then, is one of 
them. She has been trying to ride over yon — and you have 
put up with it. Lord, Mr. Franklin, don't you know women 
by this time better than that? You have heard me talk of 
the late Mrs. Betteredge?" 

I had heard him talk of the late Mrs. Betteredge pretty 
often — invariably producing her as his one undeniable exam- 
ple of the inbred frailty and perversity of the other sex. In 
that capacity he exhibited her now. 

"Very well, Mr. Franklin. Now listen to me. Different 
women have different ways of riding the high horse. The 
late Mrs. Betteredge took her exercise on that favorite female 
animal whenever I happened to deny her any thing that she 
had set her heart on. So sure as I came home from my work 
on these occasions, so sure was my wife to call to me up the 
kitchen stairs, and to say that, after my brutal treatment of 
her, she hadn't the heart to cook me my dinner. I put up 
with it for some time — just as you are putting up with it now 
from Miss Rachel. At last my patience wore out. I went 
down stairs, and I took Mrs. Betteredge — affectionately, you 
understand — up in my arms, and carried her, holus-bolus, into 
the best parlor, where she received her company. I said, 
'That's the right place for you, my dear,' and so went back 
to the kitchen. I locked myself in, and took off my coat, 
and turned up my shirt-sleeves, and cooked my own dinner. 
When it was done I served it up in my best manner, and 
enjoyed it most heartily. I had my pipe and my drop of grog 
afterward ; and then I cleared the table, and washed the crock- 
cry, and cleaned the knives and forks, and put the things 

327 



THE MOONSTONE 

away, and swept up the hearth. When things were as bright 
and clean again, as bright and clean could be, I opened the 
door and let Mrs. Betteredge in. 'I've had my dinner, my 
dear,' I said ; 'and I hope you will find I have left the kitchen 
all that your fondest wishes can desire.' For the rest of that 
woman's life, Mr. Franklin, I never had to cook my dinner 
again ! Moral : You have put up with Miss Rachel in Lon- 
don ; don't put up with her in Yorkshire. Come back to the 
house." 

Quite unanswerable ! I could only assure my good friend 
that even his powers of persuasion were, in this case, thrown 
away on me. 

"It's a lovely evening," I said. 'T shall walk to Frizing- 
hall, and stay at the hotel, and you must come to-morrow 
morning and breakfast with me. I have something to say 
to you." 

Betteredge shook his head gravely. 

"I am heartily sorry for this," he said. "I had hoped, Mr. 
Franklin, to hear that things were all smooth and pleasant 
again between you and Miss Rachel. If you must have your 
own way, sir," he continued, after a moment's reflection, 
"there is no need to go to Frizinghall to-night for a bed. It's 
to be had nearer than that. There's Hotherstone's Farm, 
barely two miles from here. You can hardly object to that 
on Miss Rachel's account," the old man added, slyly. "Hoth- 
erstone lives, Mr. Franklin, on his own freehold." 

I remembered the place the moment Betteredge mentioned 
it. The farm-house stood in a sheltered inland valley, on 
the banks of the prettiest stream in that part of Yorkshire ; 
and the farmer had a spare bedroom and parlor, which he 
was accustomed to let to artists, anglers, and tourists in gen- 
eral. A more agreeable place of abode, during my stay in 
the neighborhood, I could not have wished to find. 

"Are the rooms to let?" I inquired. 

"Mrs. Hotherstone herself, sir, asked for my good word 
to recommend the rooms yesterday." 

"I'll take them, Betteredge, with the greatest pleasure." 

We went back to the yard, in which I had left my traveling- 
bag. After putting a stick through the handle and swinging 
the bag over his shoulder, Betteredge appeared to relapse 

328 



THE MOONSTONE 

into the bewilderment which my sudden appearance had 
caused when I surprised him in the bee-hive chair. He looked 
incredulously at the house, and then he wheeled about and 
looked more incredulously still at me. 

"I've lived a goodish long time in the world," said this 
best and dearest of all old servants — "but the like of this I 
never did expect to see. There stands the house, and here 
stands Mr. Franklin Blake — and, damme, if one of them 
isn't turning his back on the other, and going to sleep in a 
lodging!" 

He led the way out, wagging his head and growling omi- 
nously. "There's only one more miracle that can happen," 
he said to me, over his shoulder. "The next thing you'll do, 
Mr. Franklin, will be to pay me back that seven-and-sixpence 
you borrowed of me when you were a boy." 

This stroke of sarcasm put him in a better humor with 
himself and with me. We left the house and passed through 
the lodge-gates. Once clear of the grounds, the duties of 
hospitality, in Betteredge's code of morals, ceased, and the 
privileges of curiosity began. 

He dropped back, so as to let me get on a level with him. 
"Fine evening for a walk, Mr. Franklin," he said, as if we 
had just accidentally encountered each other at that moment. 
"Supposing you had gone to the hotel at Frizinghall, sir?" 

"Yes?" 

"I should have had the honor of breakfasting with you to- 
morrow morning." 

"Come and breakfast with me at Hotherstone's Farm, in- 
stead." 

"Much obliged to you for your kindness, Mr. Franklin. 
But it wasn't exactly breakfast that I was driving at. I think 
you mentioned that you had something to say to me? If it's 
no secret, sir," said Betteredge, suddenly abandoning the 
crooked way, and taking the straight one, "I'm burning to 
know what brought you down here, if you please, in this sud- 
den way." 

"What brought me here before?" I asked. 

"The Moonstone, Mr. Franklin. But what brings you 
now, sir?" 

"The Moonstone again, Betteredge." 

329 



THE MOONSTONE 

The old man suddenly stood still, and looked at me in the 
gray twilight as if he suspected his own ears of deceiving 
him. 

"If that's a joke, sir," he said, "I'm afraid I'm getting a 
little dull in my old age. I don't take it." 

"It's no joke," I answered. "I have come here to take 
up the inquiry which was dropped when I left England. I 
have come here to do what nobody has done yet — to find out 
who took the Diamond." 

"Let the Diamond be, Mr. FrankHn ! Take my advice, 
and let the Diamond be ! That cursed Indian jewel has mis- 
guided every body who has come near it. Don't waste your 
money and your temper — in the fine spring-time of your life, 
sir — by meddling with the Moonstone. How can you hope 
to succeed, saving your presence, when Sergeant Cuff himself 
made a mess of it ? Sergeant Cuff !" repeated Betteredge, 
shaking his forefinger at me sternly. "The greatest police- 
man in England !" 

"My mind is made up, my old friend. Even Sergeant 
Cuff doesn't daunt me. By-the-bye, I may want to speak to 
him, sooner or later. Have you heard any thing of him 
lately?" 

"The Sergeant won't help you, Mr. Franklin." 

"Why not ?" 

"There has been an event, sir, in the police circles since 
you went away. The great Cuff has retired from business. 
He has got a little cottage at Dorking and he's up to his eyes 
in the growing of roses. I have it in his own handwriting, 
Mr. Franklin. He has grown the white moss-rose, without 
budding it on the dog-rose first. And Mr. Begbie the gar- 
dener is to go to Dorking and own that the Sergeant has 
beaten him at last." 

"It doesn't much matter," I said. "I must do without Ser- 
geant Cuff's help. And I must trust to you, at starting." 

It is likely enough that I spoke rather carelessly. At any 
rate, Betteredge seemed to be piqued by something in the 
reply which I had just made to him. "You might trust to 
worse than me, Mr. Franklin — I can tell you that," he said, 
a little sharply. 

The tone in which he retorted, and a certain disturbance, 

330 



THE MOONSTONE 

after he had spoken, which I detected in his manner, sug- 
gested to me that he was possessed of some information which 
he hesitated to communicate. 

"I expect you to help me," I said, "picking up the frag- 
ments of evidence which Sergeant Cuff has left behind him. 
I know you can do that. Can you do no more?" 

"What more can you expect from me, sir?" asked Better- 
edge, with an appearance of the utmost humility. 

"I expect more — from what you said just now." 

"Mere boasting, Mr. Franklin," returned the old man, ob- 
stinately. "Some people are born boasters, and they never 
get over it to their dying day. I'm one of them." 

There was only one way to take with him. I appealed to 
his interest in Rachel and his interest in me. 

"Betteredge, would you be glad to hear that Rachel and I 
were good friends again ?" 

"I have served your family, sir, to mighty little purpose, 
if you doubt it !" 

"Do you remember how Rachel treated me before I left 
England ?" 

"As well as if it was yesterday ! My lady herself wrote 
you a letter about it, and you were so good as to show the 
letter to me. It said that Miss Rachel was mortally offended 
with you for the part you had taken in trying to recover her 
jewel. And neither my lady, nor you, nor any body else could 
guess why." 

"Quite true, Betteredge ! And I come back from my travels 
and find her mortally offended with me still. I knew that 
the Diamond was at the bottom of it last year, and I know 
that the Diamond is at the bottom of it now. I have tried to 
speak to her and she won't see me. I have tried to write to 
her and she won't answer me. How, in Heaven's name, am 
I to clear the matter up? The chance of searching into the 
loss of the Moonstone, is the one chance of inquiry that Rachel 
herself has left me !" 

Those words evidently put the case before him as he had 
not seen it yet. He asked a question which satisfied me that 
I had shaken him. 

"There is no ill-feeling in this, Mr. Franklin, on your side 
—is there ?" 

33^ 



THE MOONSTONE 

"There was some anger," I answered, "when I left 
London. But that is all worn out now. I want to make 
Rachel come to an understanding with me — and 1 want noth- 
ing more." 

"You don't feel any fear, sir — supposing you make any dis- 
coveries — in regard to what you may find out about Miss 
Rachel?" 

I understood the jealous belief in his young mistress which 
prompted those words. 

"I am as certain of her as you are," I answered. "The 
fullest disclosure of her secret will reveal nothing that can 
alter her place in your estimation or in mine." 

Betteredge's last-left scruples vanished at that. 

"If I am doing wrong to help you, Mr. Franklin," he ex- 
claimed, "all I can say is — I am as innocent of seeing it as the 
babe unborn ! I can put you on the road to discovery, if you 
can only go on by yourself. You remember that poor girl of 
ours — Rosanna Spearman ?" 

"Of course?" 

"You always thought she had some sort of confession, in 
regard to this matter of the Moonstone, which she wanted to 
make to you?" 

"I certainly couldn't account for her strange conduct in any 
other way." 

"You may set that doubt at rest, Mr. Franklin, whenever 
you please." 

It was my turn to come to a stand-still now. I tried vainly, 
in the gathering darkness, to see his face. In the surprise of 
the moment, I asked a little impatiently what he meant. 

"Steady, sir !" proceeded Betteredge. "I mean what I say. 
Rosanna Spearman left a sealed letter behind her — a letter 
addressed to youy 

"Where is it?" 

"In the possession of a friend of hers at Cobb's Hole. You 
must have heard tell, when you were here last, sir, of Limping 
Lucy — a lame girl, with a crutch." 

"The fisherman's daughter?" 

"The same, Mr. Franklin." 

"Why wasn't the letter forwarded to me?" 

"Limping Lucy has a will of her own, sir. She wouldn't 

332 



THE MOONSTONE 

give it into any hands but yours. And you had left England 
before I could write to you." 

"Let's go back, Betteredge, and get it at once !" 
"Too late, sir, to-night. They're great savers of candles 
along our coast ; and they go to bed early at Cobb's Hole." 
"Nonsense ! We might get there in half an hour." 
"You might, sir. And when you did get there you would 
find the door locked." He pointed to a light glimmering be- 
low us, and, at the same moment I heard through the stillness 
of the evening the bubbling of a stream. "There's the Farm, 
Mr. Franklin ! Make yourself comfortable for to-night, and 
come to me to-morrow morning — if you'll be so kind." 
"You will go with me to the fisherman's cottage?" 
"Yes, sir." 
"Early ?" 

"As early, Mr. Franklin, as you like." 
We descended the path that led to the Farm. 



CHAPTER HI. 

I HAVE only the most indistinct recollection of what hap- 
pened at Hotherstone's Farm. 

I remember a hearty welcome ; a prodigious supper, which 
would have fed a whole village in the East ; a delightfully 
clean bedroom, with nothing in it to regret but that detestable 
product of the folly of our forefathers — a feather-bed ; a rest- 
less night, with much kindling of matches and many lightings 
of one little candle ; and an immense sensation of relief when 
the sun rose and there was a prospect of getting up. 

It had been arranged overnight with Betteredge that I was 
to call for him, on our way to Cobb's Hole, as early as I liked 
— which, interpreted by my impatience to get possession of 
the letter, meant as early as I could. Without waiting for 
breakfast at the Farm, I took a crust of bread in mv hand 
and set forth, in some doubt whether I should not surprise 
the excellent Betteredge in his bed. To my great relief he 
proved to be quite as excited about the coming event as I 

333 



THE MOONSTONE 

was. I found him ready and waiting for me, with his stick in 
his hand. 

"How are you this morning, Betteredge?" 

"Very poorly, sir." 

"Sorry to hear it. What do you complain of?" 

"I complain of a new disease, Mr. Franklin, of my own 
inventing. I don't want to alarm you, but you're certain to 
catch it before the morning is out." 

"The devil I am !" 

"Do you feel an uncomfortable heat at the pit of your 
stomach, sir? and a nasty thumping at the top of your head? 
Ah! not yet? It will lay hold of you at Cobb's Hole, Mr. 
Franklin. I call it the detective-fever; and I first caught it 
in the company of Sergeant Cuff." 

"Ay ! ay ! and the cure in this instance is to open Rosanna 
Spearman's letter, I suppose ? Come along, and let's get it !" 
Early as it was, we found the fisherman's wife astir in her 
kitchen. On my presentation by Betteredge good Mrs. Yol- 
land performed a social ceremony, strictly reserved, as I after- 
ward learned, for strangers of distinction. She put a bottle 
of Dutch gin and a couple of clean pipes on the table, and 
opened the conversation by saying : "What news from Lon- 
don, sir?" 

Before I could find an answer to this immensely compre- 
hensive question an apparition advanced toward me out of a 
dark corner of the kitchen. A wan, wild, haggard girl, with 
remarkably beautiful hair, and with a fierce keenness in her 
eyes, came limping up on a crutch to the table at which I was 
sitting, and looked at me as if I were an object of mingled 
interest and horror, which it quite fascinated her to see. 

"Mr. Betteredge," she said, without taking her eyes off 
me, "mention his name again, if you please." 

"This gentleman's name," answered Betteredge, with a 
strong emphasis on gentleman, "is Mr. Franklin Blake." 

The girl turned her back on me and suddenly left the room. 
Good Mrs. Yolland, as I believe, made some apologies for 
her daughter's odd behavior, and Betteredge, probably, trans- 
lated them into polite English. I speak of this in complete 
uncertainty. My attention was absorbed in following the 
sound of the girl's crutch. Thump-thump up the wooden 

334 



THE MOONSTONE 

stairs ; thump-thump across the room above our heads ; thump- 
thump down the stairs again — and there stood the apparition 
at the open door, with a letter in its hand, beckoning me out ! 

I left more apologies in course of delivery behind me and 
followed this strange creature — limping on before me faster 
and faster — down the slope of the beach. She led me behind 
some boats, out of sight and hearing of the few people in 
the fishing-village and then stopped and faced me for the 
first time. 

"Stand there," she said. 'T want to look at you." 

There was no mistaking the expression on her face. I in- 
spired her with the strongest emotions of abhorrence and 
disgust. Let me not be vain enough to say that no woman 
had ever looked at me in this manner before. I will only 
venture on the more modest assertion that no woman had 
ever let me perceive it yet. There is a limit to the length 
of the inspection which a man can endure, under certain cir- 
cumstances. I attempted to direct Limping Lucy's attention 
to some less revolting object than my face. 

"I think you have got a letter to give me," I began. 'Ts it 
the letter there in your hand?" 

"Say that again," was the only answer I received. 

I repeated the words, like a good child learning its lesson. 

"No," said the girl, speaking to herself, but keeping her 
eyes still mercilessly fixed on me. "I can't find out what she 
sav/ in his face. I can't guess what she heard in his voice." 
She suddenly looked away from me, and rested her head 
wearily on the top of her crutch. "Oh my poor dear !" she 
said, in the first soft tones which had fallen from her in my 
hearing. "Oh my lost darling! what could you see in this 
man?" She lifted her head again fiercely, and looked at me 
once more. "Can you eat and drink ?" she asked. 

I did my best to preserve my gravity, and answered, "Yes." 

"Can vou sleep?" 

"Yes."' 

"When you see a poor girl in service, do you feel no re- 
morse ?" 

"Certainly not. Why should I ?" 

She abruptly thrust the letter, as the phrase is, into my 
face, 

335 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Take it !" she exclaimed, furiously. "I never set eyes on 
you before. God Almighty forbid I should ever set eyes on 
you again." 

With those parting words she limped away from me at the 
top of her speed. The one interpretation that I could put on 
her conduct has, no doubt, been anticipated by every body. 
I could only suppose that she was mad. 

Having reached that inevitable conclusion, I turned to the 
more interesting object of investigation which was presented 
to me by Rosanna Spearman's letter. The address was writ- 
ten as follows : "For Franklin Blake, Esq. To be given into 
his own hands, and not to be trusted to any one else, by Lucy 
Yolland." 

I broke the seal. The envelope contained a letter, and this, 
in its turn, contained a slip of paper. I read the letter first : 

"Sir, — If you are curious to know the meaning of my be- 
havior to you, while you were staying in the house of my 
mistress, Lady Verinder, do what you are told to do in the 
memorandum inclosed with this — and do it without any per- 
son being present to overlook you. Your humble ser- 
vant, . Rosanna Spearman." 

I turned to the slip of paper next. Here is the literal copy 
of it, word for word : 

"Memorandum : — To go to the Shivering Sand at the turn 
of the tide. To walk out on the South Spit, until I get the 
South Spit Beacon, and the flag-staflf at the Coast-guard sta- 
tion above Cobb's Hole in a line together. To lay down on 
the rocks, a stick, or any straight thing to guide my hand, 
exactly in the line of the beacon and the flag-staff. To take 
care, in doing this, that one end of the stick shall be at the 
edge of the rocks, on the side of them which overlooks the 
quicksand. To feel along the stick, among the sea-weed, be- 
ginning from the end of the stick which points toward the 
beacon, for the chain. To run my hand along the chain, 
when found, until I come to the part of it which stretches 
over the edge of the rocks, down into the quicksand. And 
then, to pull the chain." 

336 



THE MOONSTONE 

Just as I had read the last words — underHned in the orig- 
inal — I heard the voice of Betteredge behind me. The in- 
ventor of the detective-fever had completely succumbed to 
that irresistible malady. "I can't stand it any longer, Mr. 
Franklin. What does her letter say? For mercy's sake, sir, 
tell us what does her letter say?" 

I handed him the letter and the memorandum. He read 
the first without appearing to be much interested in it. But 
the second — the memorandum — produced a strong impression 
on him. 

"The Sergeant said it!" cried Betteredge. "From first to 
last, sir, the Sergeant said she had got a memorandum of the 
hiding-place. And here it is ! Lord save us, Mr. Franklin, 
here is the secret that puzzled every body, from the great Cuff 
downward, ready and waiting, as one may say, to show itself 
to you! It's the ebb now, sir, as any body may see for them- 
selves. How long will it be till the turn of the tide?" He 
looked up, and observed a lad at work at some little distance 
from us, mending a net. "Tammie Bright!" he shouted, at 
the top of his voice. 

"I hear you !" Tammie shouted back. 

"When's the turn of the tide?" 

"In an hour's time." 

We both looked at our watches. 

"We can go round by the coast, Mr, Franklin," said Bet- 
teredge, "and get to the quicksand in that way, with plenty 
of time to spare. What do you say, sir?" 

"Come along." 

On our way to the Shivering Sand I applied to Betteredge 
to revive my memory of events, as affecting Rosanna Spear- 
man, at the period of Sergeant Cuff's inquiry. With my old 
friend's help I soon had the succession of circumstances 
clearly registered again in my mind. Rosanna's journey to 
Frizinghall, when the whole household believed her to be ill 
in her own room — Rosanna's mysterious employment of the 
night-time, with her door locked and her candle burning till 
the morning — Rosanna's suspicious purchase of the japanned 
tin case and the two dogs' chains from Mrs. Yolland — the 
Sergeant's positive conviction that Rosanna had hidden some- 
thing at the Shivering Sand, and the Sergeant's absolute igno- 

337 



THE MOONSTONE 

ranee as to what that something could be — all these strange 
results of the abortive inquiry into the loss of the Moonstone 
were clearly present to me again when we reached the quick- 
sand, and walked out together on the low ledge of rocks 
called the South Spit. 

With Betteredge's help I soon stood in the right position 
to see the Beacon and the Coast-guard flag-staft in a line 
together. Following the memorandum as our guide, we next 
laid my stick in the necessary direction, as neatly as we could, 
on the uneven surface of the rocks. And then we looked at 
our watches once more. 

It wanted nearly twenty minutes yet of the turn of the 
tide. I suggested waiting through this interval on the beach, 
instead of on the wet and slippery surface of the rocks. Hav- 
ing reached the dry sand, I prepared to sit down ; and, greatly 
to my surprise, Betteredge prepared to leave me. 

"What are you going away for ?" I asked. 

"Look at the letter again, sir, and you will see." 

A glance at the letter reminded me that I was charged, 
when I made my discovery, to make it alone. 

"It's hard enough for me to leave you at such a time as 
this," said Betteredge. "But she died a dreadful death, poor 
soul! and I feel a kind of call on me, Mr. Franklin, to humor 
that fancy of hers. Besides," he added, confidentially, "there's 
nothing in the letter against your letting out the secret after- 
ward. I'll hang about in the fir-plantation, and wait till you 
pick me up. Don't be longer than you can help, sir. The 
detective-fever isn't an easy disease to deal with, under these 
circumstances." 

With that parting caution he left me. 

The interval of expectation, short as it was when reckoned 
by the measure of time, assumed formidable proportions when 
reckoned by the measure of suspense. This was one of the 
occasions on which the invaluable habit of smoking becomes 
especially precious and consolatory, I lit a cigar and sat 
down on the slope of the beach. 

The sunlight poured its unclouded beauty on every object 
that I could see. The exquisite freshness of the air made 
the mere act of living and breathing a luxury. Even the 
lonely little bay welcomed the morning with a show of cheer- 

338 



THE MOONSTONE 

fulness ; and the bared wet surface of the quicksand itself, 
gUttering with a golden brightness, hid the horror of its false 
brown face under a passing smile. It was the finest day I 
had seen since my return to England. 

The turn of the tide came before my cigar was finished. 
I saw the preliminary heaving of the Sand, and then the awful 
shiver that crept over its surface — as if some spirit of terror 
lived and moved and shuddered in the fathomless deeps 
beneath. I threw away my cigar and went back again to the 
rocks. 

My directions in the memorandum instructed me to feel 
along the line traced by the stick, beginning with the end 
which was nearest to the beacon. 

I advanced in this manner more than half-way along the 
stick, without encountering any thing but the edges of the 
rocks. An inch or two farther on, however, my patience was 
rewarded. In a narrow little fissure, just within reach of my 
forefinger, I felt the chain. Attempting, next, to follow it 
by touch in the direction of the quicksand, I found my prog- 
ress stopped by a thick growth of sea-weed — which had fas- 
tened itself into the fissure, no doubt, in the time that had 
elapsed since Rosanna Spearman had chosen her hiding- 
place. 

It was equally impossible to pull up the sea-weed or to 
force my hand through it. After marking the spot indicated 
by the end of the stick which was placed nearest to the quick- 
sand, I determined to pursue the search for the chain on a 
plan of my own. My idea was to "sound" immediately 
under the rocks, on the chance of recovering the lost 
trace of the chain at the point at which it entered the sand. 
I took up the stick and knelt down on the brink of the South 
Spit. 

In this position my face was within a few feet of the sur- 
face of the quicksand. The sight of it so near me, still dis- 
turbed at intervals by its hideous shivering fit, shook my 
nerves for the moment. A horrible fancy that the dead 
woman might appear on the scene of her suicide to assist my 
search — an unutterable dread of seeing her rise through the 
heaving surface of the sand and point to the place — forced 
itself into my mind, and turned me cold in the warm sun- 

339 



THE MOONSTONE 

light. I own I closed my eyes at the moment when the point 
of the stick first entered the quicksand. 

The instant afterward, before the stick could have been 
submerged more than a few inches, I was free from the hold 
of my own superstitious terror, and was throbbing with ex- 
citement from head to foot. Sounding bHndfoId, at my first 
attempt — at that first attempt I had sounded right ! The stick 
struck the chain. 

Taking a firm hold of the roots of the sea-weed with my 
left hand, I laid myself down over the brink, and felt with 
my right hand under the overhanging edges of the rock. My 
right hand found the chain. 

I drew it up without the slightest difficulty. And there 
was the japanned tin case fastened to the end of it. 

The action of the water had so rusted the chain that it 
was impossible for me to unfasten it from the hasp which 
attached it to the case. Putting the case between my knees, 
and exerting my utmost strength, I contrived to draw off the 
cover. Some white substance filled the whole interior when 
I looked in. I put in my hand and found it to be linen. 

In drawing out the linen I also drew out a letter crumpled 
up with it. After looking at the direction, and discovering 
that it bore my name, I put the letter in my pocket and com- 
pletely removed the linen. It came out in a thick roll, molded, 
of course, to the shape of the case in which it had been so 
long confined, and perfectly preserved from any injury by 
the sea. 

I carried the linen to the dry sand of the beach, and there 
unrolled and smoothed it out. There was no mistaking it 
as an article of dress. It was a night-gown. 

The uppermost side, when I spread it out, presented to 
view innumerable folds and creases, and nothing more. I 
tried the undermost side next, and instantly discovered the 
smear of the paint from the door of Rachel's boudoir ! 

My eyes remained riveted on the stain, and my mind took 
me back at a leap from present to past. The very words of 
Sergeant Cufif recurred to me, as if the man himself was at 
my side again, pointing to the unanswerable inference which 
he drew from the smear on the door : 

"Find out whether there is any article of dress in this 

340 



THE MOONSTONE 

house with the stain of the paint on it. Find out who that 
dress belongs to. Find out how the person can account for 
having been in the room, and smeared the paint, between 
midnight and three in the morning. If the person can't sat- 
isfy you, you haven't far to look for the hand that took the 
Diamond." 

One after another those words traveled over my memory, 
repeating themselves again and again with a wearisome, me- 
chanical reiteration. I was roused from what felt like a trance 
of many hours — from what was really, no doubt, the pause 
of a few moments only — by a voice calling to me. I looked 
up and saw that Betteredge's patience had failed him at last. 
He was just visible between the sand-hills, returning to the 
beach. 

The old man's appearance recalled me, the moment I per- 
ceived it, to my sense of present things and reminded me 
that the inquiry which I had pursued thus far still remained 
incomplete. I had discovered the smear on the night-gown. 
To whom did the night-gown belong? 

My first impulse was to consult the letter in my pocket — 
the letter which I had found in the case. 

As I raised my hand to take it out I remembered that 
there was a shorter way to discovery than this. The night- 
gown itself would reveal the truth ; for, in all probability, 
the night-gown was marked with its owner's name. 

I took it up from the sand and looked for the mark. I 
found the mark, and read — 

My own name! 

There were the familiar letters which told me that the 
night-gown was mine. I looked up from them. There was 
the sun ; there were the glittering waters of the bay ; there 
was old Betteredge, advancing nearer and nearer to me. I 
looked back again at the letters. My own name. Plainly 
confronting me — my own name. 

"If time, pains, and money can do it, I will lay my hand 
on the thief who took the Moonstone" — I had left London 
with those words on my lips. I had penetrated the secret 
which the quicksand had kept from every other living crea- 
ture. And, on the unanswerable evidence of the paint-stain, 
I had discovered myself as the thief. 

341 



THE MOONSTONE 



CHAPTER IV. 

I HAVE not a word to say about my own sensations. 
My impression is, that the shock inflicted on me com- 
pletely suspended my thinking and feeling power. I certainly 
could not have known what I was about when Betteredge 
joined me — for I have it on his authority that I laughed, when 
he asked what was the matter, and, putting the night-gown 
into his hands, told him to read the riddle for himself. 

Of what \yas said between us on the beach I have not the 
faintest recollection. The first place in which I can now see 
myself again plainly is the plantation of firs. Betteredge and 
I are walking back together to the house ; and Betteredge is 
telling me that I shall be able to face it and he will be able 
to face it, when we have had a glass of grog. 

The scene shifts from the plantation to Betteredge's little 
sitting-room. My resolution not to enter Rachel's house is 
forgotten. I feel gratefully the coolness and shadiness and 
quiet of the room. I drink the grog, a perfectly new luxury 
to me, at that time of day, which my good old friend mixes 
with icy-cool water from the well. Under any other circum- 
stances the drink would simply stupefy me. As things are, 
it strings up my nerves. I begin to "face it," as Betteredge 
has predicted. And Betteredge, on his side, begins to "face 
it" too. 

The picture which I am now presenting of myself will, I 
suspect, be thought a very strange one, to say the least of it. 
Placed in a situation which may, I think, be described as 
entirely without parallel, what is the first proceeding to which 
I resort? Do I seclude myself from all human society? Do 
I set my mind to analyze the abominable impossibility which, 
nevertheless, confronts me as an undeniable fact? Do I hurry 
back to London by the first train to consult the highest au- 
thorities, and to set a searching inquiry on foot immediately? 
No. I accept the shelter of a house which I had resolved 
never to degrade myself by entering again ; and I sit, tippling 
spirits and water in the company of an old servant, at ten 
o'clock in the morning. Is this the conduct that might have 
been expected from a man placed in my horrible position? 

342 



THE MOONSTONE 

I can only answer, that the sight of old Betteredge's familiar 
face was an inexpressible comfort to me and that the drinking 
of old Betteredge's grog helped me, as I believe nothing else 
would have helped me, in the state of complete bodily and 
mental prostration into which I had fallen. I can only offer 
this excuse for myself; and I can only admire that invariable 
preservation of dignity and that strictly logical consistency 
of conduct which distinguish every man and woman who may 
read these lines, in every emergency of their lives from the 
cradle to the grave. 

"Now, Mr. Franklin, there's one thing certain, at any rate," 
said Betteredge, throwing the night-gown down on the 
table between us, and pointing to it as if it was a living crea- 
ture that could hear him. "He's a liar, to begin with." 

This comforting view of the matter was not the view that 
presented itself to my mind. 

"I am as innocent of all knowledge of having taken the 
Diamond as you are," I said. "But there is the witness 
against me ! The paint on the night-gown and the name on 
the night-gown, are facts." 

Betteredge lifted my glass and put it persuasively into my 
hand. 

"Facts?" he repeated. "Take a drop more grog, Mr. 
Franklin, and you'll get over the weakness of believing in 
facts ! Foul play, sir !" he continued, dropping his voice con- 
fidentially. "That is how I read the riddle. Foul play, some- 
where — and you and I must find it out. Was there nothing 
else in the tin case when you put your hand into it?" 

The question instantly reminded me of the letter in my 
pocket. I took it out and opened it. It was a letter of many 
pages, closely written. I looked impatiently for the signature 
at the end. "Rosanna Spearman." 

As I read the name a sudden remembrance illuminated 
my mind, and a sudden suspicion rose out of the new light. 

"Stop !" I exclaimed. "Rosanna Spearman came to my 
aunt out of a Reformatory? Rosanna Spearman had once 
been a thief?" 

"There's no denying that, Mr. Franklin. What of it now, 
if you please?" 

"What of it now? How do wc know she may not have 

343 



THE MOONSTONE 

stolen the Diamond after all? How do we know she may 
not have smeared my night-gown purposely with the 
paint — ?" 

Betteredge laid his hand on my arm, and stopped me before 
I could say any more, 

"You will be cleared of this, Mr. Franklin, beyond all 
doubt. But I hope you won't be cleared in that way. See 
what the letter says, sir. In justice to the girl's memory, see 
what the letter says." 

I felt the earnestness with which he spoke — felt it almost 
as a rebuke to me. "You shall form your own judgment on 
her letter," I said ; "I will read it out." 

I began — and read these lines : 

"Sir, — I have something to own to you. A confession 
which means much misery may sometimes be made in very 
few words. This confession can be made in three words. 
I love you." 

The letter dropped from my hand. I looked at Betteredge. 
"In the name of Heaven," I said, "what does it mean?" 

He seemed to shrink from answering the question. 

"You and Limping Lucy were alone together this morning, 
sir," he said. "Did she say nothing about Rosanna Spear- 



man 



"She never even mentioned Rosanna Spearman's name." 
"Please to go back to the letter, Mr. Franklin. I tell you 

plainly, I can't find it in my heart to distress you, after what 

you have had to bear already. Let her speak for herself, sir. 

And get on with your grog. For your own sake, get on with 

your grog." 

I resumed the reading of the letter. 

"It would be very disgraceful to me to tell you this, if I 
was a living woman when you read it. I shall be dead and 
gone, sir, when you find my letter. It is that which makes 
me bold. Not even my grave will be left to tell of me. I 
may own the truth — with the quicksand waiting to hide me 
when the words are written. 

"Besides, you will find your night-gown in my hiding- 

344 ^ 



THE MOONSTONE 

place, with the smear of the paint on it; and you will want 
to know how it came to be hidden by me? and why I said 
nothing to you about it in my lifetime? I have only one 
reason to give. I did these strange things because I loved 
you. 

"I won't trouble you with much about myself, or my life, 
before you came to my lady's house. Lady Verinder took me 
out of a Reformatory. I had gone to the Reformatory from 
the prison. I was put in the prison, because I was a thief. I 
was a thief, because my mother went on the streets when 
I was quite a little girl. My mother went on the streets, be- 
cause the gentleman who was my father deserted her. There 
is no need to tell such a common story as this, at any length. 
It is told quite often enough in the newspapers. 

"Lady Verinder was very kind to me, and Mr. Betteredge 
was very kind to me. Those two and the matron at the Re- 
formatory, are the only good people I have ever met with in 
all my life. I might have got on in my place — not happily — 
but I might have got on, if you had not come visiting. I 
don't blame you, sir. It's my fault — all my fault. 

"Do you remember when you came out on us from among 
the sand-hills, that morning, looking for Mr. Betteredge? 
You were like a prince in a fairy-story. You were like a 
lover in a dream. You were the most adorable human crea- 
ture I had ever seen. Something that felt like the happy 
life I had never led yet leaped up in me the instant I set 
eyes on you. Don't laugh at this, if you can help it. Oh, if 
I could only make you feel how serious it is to me! 

"1 went back to the house, and wrote your name and mine 
in my work-box, and drew a true-lovers' knot under them. 
Then, some devil — no, I ought to say some good angel — whis- 
pered to me, 'Go and look in the glass.' The glass told me 
— never mind what. I was too foolish to take the warning. 
I went on getting fonder and fonder of you, just as if I was 
a lady in your own rank of life and the most beautiful crea- 
ture your eyes ever rested on. T tried — oh dear, how I tried — 
to get you to look at me. If you had known how I used to 
cry at night with the misery and the mortification of your 
never taking any notice of me, you would have pitied me, 
perhaps, and have given me a look now and then to live on. 

345 



THE MOONSTONE 

"It would have been no very kind look, perhaps, if you 
had known how I hated Miss Rachel. I believe I found out 
you were in love with her before you knew it yourself. She 
used to give you roses to wear in your button-hole. Ah, Mr. 
Franklin, you wore my roses oftener than either you or she 
thought ! The only comfort I had at that time was putting 
my rose secretly in your glass of water in place of hers — 
and then throwing her rose away. 

"If she had been really as pretty as you thouo^ht her, I 
might have borne it better. No ; I believe I should have been 
more spiteful against her still. Suppose you put Miss Rachel 
into a servant's dress, and took her ornaments off — ? I don't 
know what is the use of my writing in this way. It can't be 
denied that she had a bad figure ; she was too thin. But who 
can tell what the men like? And young ladies may behave 
in a manner which would cost a servant her place. It's no 
business of mine. I can't expect you to read my letter if I 
write it in this way. But it does stir one up to hear Miss 
Rachel called pretty, when one knows all the time that it's 
her dress does it and her confidence in herself. 

"Try not to lose patience with me, sir. I will get on as fast 
as I can to the time which is sure to interest you — the time 
when the Diamond was lost. 

"But there is one thing which I have got it on my mind 
to tell you first. 

"My life was not a very hard life to bear, while I was a 
thief. It was only when they had taught me at the Reforma- 
tory to feel my own degradation, and to try for better things, 
that the days grew long and weary. Thoughts of the future 
forced themselves on me now. I felt the dreadful reproach 
that honest people — even the kindest of honest people — were 
to me in themselves. A heart-breaking sensation of loneliness 
kept with me, go where I might, and do what I might, and 
see what persons I might. It was my duty, I know, to try 
and get on with my fellow-servants in my new place. Some- 
how, I couldn't make friends with them. They looked, or 
I thought they looked, as if they suspected what I had been. 
I don't regret, far from it, having been roused to make the 
effort to be a reformed woman ; but, indeed, indeed it was a 
weary life. You had come across it like a beam of sunshine 

346 



THE MOONSTONE 

at first — and then you too failed me. I was mad enough to 
love you ; and I couldn't even attract your notice. There was 
great misery — there really was great misery in that. 

"Now I am coming to what I wanted to tell you. In 
those days of bitterness I went two or three times, when it 
was my turn to go out, to my favorite place — the beach above 
the Shivering Sand. And I said to myself, 'I think it will 
end here. When I can bear it no longer, I think it will end 
here.' You will understand, sir, that the place had laid a 
kind of spell on me before you came. I had always had a 
notion that something would happen to me at the quicksand. 
But I had never looked at it, with the thought of its being 
the means of my making away with myself, till the time came 
of which I am now writing. Then I did think that here was 
a place which would end all my troubles for me in a moment 
or two — and hide me forever afterward. 

"This is all I have to say about myself, reckoning from 
the morning when I first saw you, to the morning when 
the alarm was raised in the house that the Diamond was 
lost. 

"I was so aggravated by the foolish talk among the women 
servants, all wondering who was to be suspected first ; and 
I was so angry with you, knowing no better at that time, for 
the pains you took in hunting for the jewel, and sending for 
the police, that I kept as much as possible away by myself, 
until later in the day, when the officer from Frizinghall came 
to the house. 

"Mr. Seegrave began, as you may remember, by setting a 
guard on the women's bedrooms ; and the women all followed 
him up stairs in a rage, to know what he meant by the insult 
he had put on them. I went with iihe rest, because if I had 
done any thing different from the rest, Mr. Seegrave was 
the sort of man who would have suspected me directly. We 
found him in Miss Rachel's room. He told us he wouldn't 
have a lot of women there ; and he pointed to the smear on 
the painted door, and said some of our petticoats had done 
the mischief, and sent us all down stairs again. 

"After leaving Miss Rachel's room, I stopped a moment 
on one of the landings, by myself, to see if I had got the 
paint-stain by any chance on my gown. Penelope Betteredge, 

347 



THE MOONSTONE 

the only one of the women with whom I was on friendly 
terms, passed, and noticed what I was about. 

" 'You needn't trouble yourself, Rosanna,' she said. 'The 
paint on Miss Rachel's door has been dry for hours. If Mr. 
Seegrave hadn't set a watch on our bedrooms, I might have 
told him as much. I don't know what you think — / was 
never so insulted before in my life !' 

"Penelope was a hot-tempered girl. I quieted her, and 
brought her back to what she had said about the paint on 
the door having been dry for hours. 

" 'How do you know that ?' I asked. 

" 'I was with Miss Rachel and Mr. Franklin all yesterday 
morning,' Penelope said, 'mixing the colors, while they fin- 
ished the door. I heard Miss Rachel ask whether the door 
would be dry that evening, in time for the birthday com- 
pany to see it. And Mr. Franklin shook his head and said 
it wouldn't be dry in less than twelve hours. It was long past 
luncheon-time — it was three o'clock before they had done. 
What does your arithmetic say, Rosanna? Mine says the 
door was dry by three this morning.' 

" 'Did some of the ladies go up stairs yesterday evening to 
see it?' I asked. 'I thought I heard Miss Rachel warning 
them to keep clear of the door.' 

" 'None of the ladies made the smear,' Penelope answered. 
'I left Miss Rachel in bed at twelve last night. And I noticed 
the door, and there was nothing wrong with it then.' 

" 'Oughtn't you to mention this to Mr. Seegrave, Penelope?' 

" 'I wouldn't say a word to help Mr. Seegrave for any 
thing that could be offered to me !' 

"She went to her work, and I went to mine. 

"My work, sir, was to make your bed, and to put your 
room tidy. It was the happiest hour I had in the whole day. 
I used to kiss the pillow on which your head had rested all 
night. No matter who has done it since, you have never had 
your clothes folded as nicely as I folded them for you. Of 
all the little knickknacks in your dressing-case, there wasn't 
one that had so much as a speck on it. You never noticed it, 
any more than you noticed me. I beg your pardon ; I am 
forgetting myself. I will make haste and go on again. 

"Well, I went in that morning to do my work in your 

348 



THE MOONSTONE 

room. There was your night-gown tossed across the bed, 
just as you had thrown it off. I took it up to fold it — and I 
saw the stain of the paint from Miss Rachel's door ! 

'T was so startled by the discovery that I ran out, with the 
night-gown in my hand, and made for the back stairs and 
locked myself into my own room, to look at it in a place where 
nobody could intrude and interrupt me. 

"As soon as I got my breath again I called to mind my 
talk with Penelope, and I said to myself, 'Here's the proof 
that he was in Miss Rachel's sitting-room between twelve last 
night and three this morning !' 

"I shall not tell you in plain words what was the first sus- 
picion that crossed my mind when I had made that discovery. 
You would only be angry — and, if you were angry, you might 
tear my letter up and read no more of it. 

"Let it he enough, if you please, to say only this. After 
thinking it over to the best of my ability, I made it out that 
the thing wasn't likely, for a reason that I will tell you. If 
you had been in Miss Rachel's sitting-room at that time of 
night, with Miss Rachel's knowledge, and if you had been 
foolish enough to forget to take care of the wet door, she 
would have reminded you — she would never have let you 
carry away such a witness against her as the witness I was 
looking at now ! At the same time, I own I was not com- 
pletely certain in my own mind that I had proved my own 
suspicion to be wrong. You will not have forgotten that I 
have owned to hating Aliss Rachel. Try to think, if you 
can, that there was a little of that hatred in all this. It ended 
in my determining to keep the night-gown, and to wait, and 
watch, and see what use I might make of it. At that time, 
please to remember, not the ghost of an idea entered my head 
that you had stolen the Diamond." 

There, I broke off in the reading of the letter for the second 
time. 

I had read those portions of the miserable woman's con- 
fession which related to myself with unaffected surprise, and, 
I can honestly add, with sincere distress. I had regretted, 
truly regretted, the aspersion which I had thoughtlessly cast 
on her memory before I had seen a line of her letter. But 

349 



THE MOONSTONE 

when I had advanced as far as the passage which is quoted 
above, I own I felt my mind growing bitterer and bitterer 
against Rosanna Spearman as I went on. "Read the rest 
for yourself," I said, handing the letter to Betteredge across 
the table. "If there is any thing in it that I must look at, 
you can tell me as you go on." 

'T understand you, Mr. Franklin," he answered. "It's 
natural, sir, in you. And God help us all !" he added, in a 
lower tone, "it's no less natural in her." 

I proceed to copy the continuation of the letter from the 
original, in my own possession. 

"Having determined to keep the night-gown, and to see 
what use my love or my revenge, I hardly know which, could 
turn it to in the future, the next thing to discover was how 
to keep it without the risk of being found out. 

"There was only one way — to make another night-gown 
exactly like it, before Saturday came and brought the laundry- 
woman and her inventory to the house. 

"I was afraid to put it ofif till the next day, the Friday ; 
being in doubt lest some accident might happen in the in- 
terval. I determined to make the new night-gown on that 
same day, the Thursday, while I could count, if I played my 
cards properly, on having my time to myself. The first 
thing to do, after locking up your night-gown in my drawer, 
was to go back to your bedroom — not so much to put it to 
rights, Penelope would have done that for me, if I had asked 
her, as to find out whether you had smeared ofif any of the 
paint-stain from your night-gowm on the bed, or on any piece 
of furniture in the room. 

"I examined every thing narrowly and at last I found a 
few faint streaks of the paint on the inside of your dressing- 
gown — not the linen dressing-gown you usually wore in that 
summer season, but a flannel dressing-gown which you had 
with you also. I suppose you felt chilly after walking to and 
fro in nothing but your night-dress and put on the warmest 
thing you could find. At any rate, there were the stains, 
just visible, on the inside of the dressing-gown. I easily got 
rid of these by scraping away the stuff of the flannel. This 
done, the only proof left against you was the proof locked up 
in my drawer. 

350 



THE MOONSTONE 

"I had just finished your room when I was sent for to be 
questioned by Mr. Seegrave, along with the rest of the ser- 
vants. Next came the examination of all our boxes. And 
then followed the most extraordinary event of the day — to me 
— since I had found the paint on your night-gown. It came 
out of the second questioning of Penelope Betteredge by Su- 
perintendent Seegrave. 

"Penelope returned to us quite beside herself with rage 
at the manner in which Mr. Seegrave had treated her. He 
had hinted, beyond the possibility of mistaking him, that he 
suspected her of being the thief. We were all equally aston- 
ished at hearing this, and we all asked, Why? 

" 'Because the Diamond was in Miss Rachel's sitting-room,' 
Penelope answered. 'And because I was the last person in 
the sitting-room at night !' 

"Almost before the words had left her lips I remembered 
that another person had been in the sitting-room later than 
Penelope. That person was yourself. My head whirled 
round and my thoughts were in dreadful confusion. In the 
midst of it all, something in my mind whispered to me that 
the smear on your night-gown might have a meaning entirely 
different to the meaning which I had given to it up to that 
time. 'If the last person who was in the room is the person 
to be suspected,' I thought to myself, 'the thief is not Penel- 
ope, but Mr. Franklin Blake !' 

"In the case of any other gentleman I believe I should 
have been ashamed of suspecting him of theft almost as soon 
as the suspicion had passed through my mind. 

"But the bare thought that you had let yourself down to 
my level, and that I, in possessing myself of your night-gown, 
had also possessed myself of the means of shielding you from 
being discovered, and disgraced for life — I say, sir, the bare 
thought of this seemed to open such a chance before me of 
winning your good-will, that I passed blindfold, as one may 
say, from suspecting to believing. I made up my mind, on 
the spot, that you had shown yourself the busiest of any body 
in fetching the police, as a blind to deceive us all ; and that 
the hand which had taken Miss Rachel's jewel could by no 
possibility be any other hand than yours. 

"The excitement of this new discovery of mine must, T 
think, have turned my head for a while. I felt such a de- 

351 



THE MOONSTONE 

vouring eagerness to see you — to try you with a word or two 
about the Diamond and to make you look at me and speak 
to me, in that way — that I put my hair tidy, and made myself 
as nice as I could, and went to you boldly in the library, 
where I knew you were writing. 

"You had left one of your rings up stairs, which made as 
good an excuse for my intrusion as I could have desired. But 
oh, sir ! if you have ever loved, you will understand how it 
was that all my courage cooled when I walked into the room 
and found myself in your presence. And then, you looked up 
at me so coldly and you thanked me for finding your ring 
in such an indifferent manner, that my knees trembled under 
me and I felt as if I should drop on the floor at your feet. 
When you had thanked me you looked back, if you remem- 
ber, at your writing. I was so mortified at being treated in 
this way that I plucked up spirit enough to speak. I said, 
'This is a strange thing about the Diamond, sir.' And you 
looked up again, and said, 'Yes, it is !' You spoke civilly, I 
can't deny that ; but still you kept a distance — a cruel distance 
between us. Believing, as I did, that you had got the lost 
Diamond hidden about you while you were speaking, your 
coolness so provoked me that I got bold enough, in the heat 
of the moment, to give you a hint. I said, 'They will never 
find the Diamond, sir, will they ? No ! nor the person who 
took it — I'll answer for that.' I nodded, and smiled at you, 
as much as to say, 'I know !' This time you looked up at 
me with something like interest in your eyes ; and I felt that 
a few more words on your side and mine might bring out 
the truth. Just at that moment Mr. Betteredge spoiled it all 
by coming to the door. I knew his footstep and I also knew 
that it was against his rules for me to be in the library at that 
time of day — let alone being there along with you. I had only 
just time to get out of my own accord before he could come 
in and tell me to go. I was angry and disappointed, but I 
was not entirely without hope, for all that. The ice, you see, 
was broken between us — and I thought I would take care, on 
the next occasion, that Mr. Betteredge was out of the way. 

"When I got back to the servants' hall the bell was going 
for our dinner. Afternoon already ! and the materials for 
making the new night-gown were still to be got ! There was 

352 



THE MOONSTONE 

but one chance of getting them. I shammed ill at dinner; 
and so secured the whole of the interval from then till tea- 
time to my own use. 

"What I was about while the household believed me to be 
lying down in my own room and how I spent the night, after 
shamming ill again at tea-time and having been sent up to 
bed, there is no need to tell you. Sergeant Cuff discovered 
that much, if he discovered nothing more. And I can guess 
how. I was detected, though I kept my veil down, in the 
draper's shop at Frizinghall. There was a glass in front of 
me at the counter where I was buying the long-cloth ; and — 
in that glass — I saw one of the shopmen point to my shoulder 
and whisper to another. At night again, when I was secretly 
at work, locked into my room, I heard the breathing of the 
women servants who suspected me outside my door. 

"It didn't matter then; it doesn't matter now. On the 
Friday morning, hours before Sergeant Cuff entered the 
house, there was the new night-gown — to make up your num- 
ber in place of the night-gown that I had got — made, wrung 
out, dried, ironed, marked, and folded as the laundry-woman 
folded all the others, safe in your drawer. There was no fear, 
if the linen in the house was examined, of the newness of 
the night-gown betraying me. All your under-clothing had 
been renewed when you came to our house — I suppose on 
your return home from foreign parts. 

"The next thing was the arrival of Sergeant Cuff and the 
next great surprise was the announcement of what he thought 
about the smear on the door. 

"I had believed you to be guilty, as I have owned, more 
because I wanted you to be guilty than for any other reason. 
And now, the Sergeant had come round by a totally different 
way to the same conclusion as mine ! And I had got the dress 
that was the only proof against you ! And not a living crea- 
ture knew it — yourself included ! I am afraid to tell you 
how I felt when I called these things to mind — you would 
hate my memory forever afterward." 

At that place Betteredge looked up from the letter. 
"Not a glimmer of light so far, Mr. Franklin." said the old 
man, taking off his heavy tortoise-shell spectacles, and push- 

-^ ^ ' 353 



THE MOONSTONE 

ing Rosanna Spearman's confession a little away from him. 
"Have you come to any conclusion, sir, in your own mind, 
while I have been reading?" 

"Finish the letter first, Betteredge ; there may be some- 
thing to enlighten us at the end of it. I shall have a word or 
two to say to you after that." 

"Very good, sir. I'll just rest my eyes, and then I'll go on 
again. In the mean time, Mr. Franklin — I don't want to 
hurry you — but would you mind telling me, in one word, 
whether you see your way out of this dreadful mess yet?" 

"I see my way back to London," I said; "to consult Mr. 
Brufif. If he can't help me — " 

"Yes, sir?" 

"And if the Sergeant won't leave his retirement at Dork- 
ing-" 

"He won't, Mr. Franklin !" 

"Then, Betteredge — as far as I can see now — I am at the 
end of my resources. After Mr. Bruff and the Sergeant, I 
don't know of a living creature who can be of the slightest 
use to me." 

As the words passed my lips some person outside knocked 
at the door of the room. 

Betteredge looked surprised as well as annoyed by the in- 
terruption. 

"Come in," he called out irritably, "whoever you are !" 

The door opened, and there entered to us, quietly, the 
most remarkable-looking man I had ever seen. Judging him 
by his figure and his movements, he was still young. Judging 
him by his face, and comparing him with Betteredge, he 
looked the elder of the two. His complexion was of a gypsy 
darkness : his fleshless cheeks had fallen into deep hollows, 
over which the bone projected like a pent-house. His nose 
presented the fine shape and modeling so often found among 
the ancient people of the East, so seldom visible among the 
newer races of the West. His forehead rose high and straight 
from the brow. His marks and wrinkles were innumerable. 
From this strange face eyes, stranger still, of the softest brown 
— eyes dreamy and mournful, and deeply sunk in their orbits 
— looked out at you, and, in my case, at least, took your atten- 
tion captive at their will. Add to this a quantity of thick 

354 



THE MOONSTONE 

closely-curling hair, which, by some freak of Nature, had 
lost its color in the most startlingly partial and capricious 
manner. Over the top of his head it was still of the deep 
black which was its natural color. Round the sides of his 
head — without the slightest gradation of gray to break the 
force of the extraordinary contrast — it had turned completely 
white. The line between the two colors preserved no sort of 
regularity. At one place, the white hair ran up into the black ; 
at another, the black hair ran down into the white. I looked 
at the man with a curiosity which, I am ashamed to say, I 
found it quite impossible to control. His soft brown eyes 
looked back at me gently ; and he met my involuntary rude- 
ness in staring at him, with an apology which I was conscious 
that I had not deserved. 

*T beg your pardon," he said. "I had no idea that Mr. 
Betteredge was engaged." He took a slip of paper from his 
pocket, and handed it to Betteredge. "The list for next 
week," he said. His eyes just rested on me again — and he 
left the room as quietly as he had entered it. 

"Who is that?" I asked. 

"Mr. Candy's assistant," said Betteredge. "By-the-bye, 
Mr. Franklin, you v/ill be sorry to hear that the little doctor 
has never recovered that illness he caught, going home from 
the birthday dinner. He's pretty well in health ; but he lost 
his memory in the fever, and he has never recovered more 
than the wreck of it since. The work all falls on his assistant. 
Not much of it now, except among the poor. They can't help 
themselves, you know. TJicy must put up with the man with 
the piebald hair and the gypsy complexion, or they would get 
no doctoring at all." 

"You don't seem to like him, Betteredge?" 

"Nobody likes him, sir." 

"Why is he so unpopular?" 

"Well, Mr. Franklin, his appearance is against him, to be- 
gin with. And then there's a story that Mr. Candy took him 
with a very doubtful character. Nobody knows who he is — 
and he hasn't a friend in the place. How can you expect one 
to like him after that?" 

"Quite impossible, of course ! May I ask what he wanted 
with you when he gave you that bit of paper?" 

355 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Only to bring me the weekly list of the sick people about 
here, sir, who stand in need of a little wine. My lady always 
had a regular distribution of good sound port and sherry 
among the infirm poor; and Miss Rachel wishes the custom 
to be kept up. Times have changed ; times have changed ! 
I remember when Mr. Candy himself brought the list to my 
mistress. Now it's Mr. Candy's assistant who brings the list 
to me. I'll go on with the letter, if you will allow me, sir," 
said Betteredge, drawing Rosanna Spearman's confession 
back to him. "It isn't lively reading, I grant you. But, there ! 
it keeps me from getting sour with thinking of the past." 
He put on his spectacles, and wagged his head gloomily. 
"There's a bottom of good sense, Mr. Frankhn, in our con- 
duct to our mothers, when they first start us on the journey of 
life. We are all of us more or less unwilling to be brought 
into the world. And we are all of us right." 

Mr. Candy's assistant had produced too strong an impres- 
sion on me to be immediately dismissed from my thoughts. 
I passed over the last unanswerable utterance of the Better- 
edge philosophy, and returned to the subject of the man with 
the piebald hair, 

"What is his name?" I asked. 

"As ugly a name as need be," Betteredge answered, gruffly. 
"Ezra Jennings." 



CHAPTER V. 



HAVING told me the name of Mr. Candy's assistant, Bet- 
teredge appeared to think that we had wasted enough 
of our time on an insignificant subject. He resumed the 
perusal of Rosanna Spearman's letter. 

On my side, I sat at the window, waiting until he had done. 
Little by little, the impression produced on me by Ezra Jen- 
nings — it seemed perfectly unaccountable, in such a situation 
as mine, that any human being should have produced an 
impression on me at all ! — faded from my mind. My thoughts 
flowed back into their former channel. Once more, I forced 
myself to look my own incredible position resolutely in the 
face. Once more, I reviewed in my own mind the course 

356 



THE MOONSTONE 

which I had at last summoned composure enough to plan out 
for the future. 

To go back to London that day ; to put the whole case be- 
fore Mr. Bruff; and, last and most important, to obtain (no 
matter by what means or at what sacrifice) a personal inter- 
view with Rachel — this was my plan of action, so far as I 
was capable of forming it at the time. There was more than 
an hour still to spare before the train started. And there was 
the bare chance that Betteredge might discover something in 
the unread portion of Rosanna Spearman's letter, which it 
might be useful for me to know before I left the house in 
which the Diamond had been lost. For that chance I was 
now waiting. 

The letter ended in these terms : 

"You have no need to be angry, Mr. Franklin, even if I 
did feel some little triumph at knowing that I held all your 
prospects in life in my own hands. Anxieties and fears soon 
came back to me. With the view Sergeant Cuff took of the 
loss of the Diamond, he would be sure to end in examining 
our linen and our dresses. There was no place in my room 
— there was no place in the house — which I could feel satis- 
fied would be safe from him. How to hide the night-gown 
so that not even the Sergeant could find it? and how to do 
that without losing one moment of precious time? — these 
were not easy questions to answer. My uncertainties ended 
in my taking a way that may make you laugh. I undressed, 
and put the night-gown on me. You had worn it — and I 
had another little moment of pleasure in wearing it after you. 

"The next news that reached us in the servants' hall showed 
that I had not made sure of the night-gown a moment too 
soon. Sergeant Cuff wanted to see the washing-book. 

"I found it, and took it to him in my lady's sitting-room. 
The Sergeant and I had come across each other more than 
once in former days. I was certain he would know me again 
— and I was not certain of what he might do when he found 
me employed as servant in a house in which a valuable jewel 
had been lost. In this suspense, I felt it would be a relief 
to me to get the meeting between us over, and to know the 
worst of it at once. 

357 



THE MOONSTONE 

"He looked at me as if I was a stranger, when I handed 
him the washing-book, and he was very specially polite in 
thanking me for bringing it. I thought those were both bad 
signs. There was no knowing what he might say of me be- 
hind my back ; there was no knowing how soon I might not 
find myself taken in custody on suspicion, and searched. It 
was then time for your return from seeing Mr. Godfrey Able- 
white off by the railway and I went to your favorite walk in 
the shrubbery, to try for another chance of speaking to you 
— the last chance, for all I knew to the contrary, that I might 
have. 

"You never appeared ; and, what was worse still, Mr. Bet- 
teredge and Sergeant Cuff passed by the place where I was 
hiding — and the Sergeant saw me. 

"I had no choice, after that, but to return to my proper 
place and my proper work, before more disasters happened 
to me. Just as I was going to step across the path you came 
back from the railway. You were making straight for the 
shrubbery, when you saw me — I am certain, sir, you saw me 
— and you turned away as if I had got the plague, and went 
into the house. ^ 

"I made the best of my way indoors again, returning by 
the servants^ entrance. There was nobody in the laundry- 
room at that time; and I sat down there alone. I have told 
you already of the thoughts which the Shivering Sand put 
into my head. Those thoughts came back to me now. I 
wondered in myself which it would be hardest to do, if things 
went on in this way, — to bear Mr. Franklin Blake's indiffer- 
ence to me, or to jump into the quicksand and end it forever 
in that way? 

"It's useless to ask me to account for my own conduct at 
this time. I try — and I can't understand it myself. 

"Why didn't I stop you, when you avoided me in that 
cruel manner? Why didn't I call out, 'Mr. Franklin, I have 
got something to say to you ; it concerns yourself, and you 

1 Note: by Franklin Blake. — The writer is entirely mistaken, poor crea- 
ture. I never noticed her. My intention was certainly to have taken a turn 
in the shrubbery. But, remembering at the same moment that my aunt 
might wish to see me, after my return from the railway, I altered my mind, 
and went into the house. 



THE MOONSTONE 

must and shall hear it?' You were at my mercy — I had got 
the whip-hand of you, as they say. And better than that, I 
had the means, if I could only make you trust me, of being 
useful to you in the future. Of course, I never supposed 
that you — a gentleman — had stolen the Diamond for the mere 
pleasure of stealing it. No. Penelope had heard Miss Rachel, 
and I had heard Mr. Betteredge, talk about your extrava- 
gance and your debts. It was plain enough to me that you 
had taken the Diamond to sell it, or pledge it, and so to get 
the money of which you stood in need. Well ! I could have 
told you of a man in London who would have advanced a 
good large sum on the jewel, and who would have asked no 
awkward questions about it either. 
^ "Why didn't I speak to you ! why didn't I speak to you ! 

"I wonder whether the risks and difficulties of keeping the 
night-gown were as much as I could manage, without having 
other risks and difficulties added to them? This might have 
been the case with some women — but how could it be the case 
with me? In the days when I was a thief, I had run fifty 
times greater risks, and found my way out of difficulties to 
which this difficulty was mere child's play. I had been ap- 
prenticed, as you may say, to frauds and deceptions — some 
of them on such a grand scale, and managed so cleverly, that 
they became famous, and appeared in the newspapers. Was 
such a little thing as the keeping of the night-gown likely to 
weigh on my spirits, and to set my heart sinking within me, 
at the time when I ought to have spoken to you? What 
nonsense to ask the question ! the thing couldn't be. 

"Where is the vise of my dwelling in this way on my own 
folly ? The plain truth is plain enough, surely ? Behind your 
back, I loved you with all my heart and soul. Before your 
face — there's no denying it — I was frightened of you ; fright- 
ened of making you angry with me ; frightened of what 
vou might say to me, though you Jiad taken the Diamond, 
if I presumed to tell you that I had found it out. I had 
gone as near to it as I dared when I spoke to you in the 
library. You had not turned your back on me then. You 
had not started away from me as if I had got the plague. I 
tried to provoke myself into feeling angry with you, and to 
rouse up my courage in that way. No ! I couldn't feel any 

359 



THE MOONSTONE 

thing but the misery and the mortification of it. 'You're a 
plain girl ; you have got a crooked shoulder ; you're only a 
house-maid — what do you mean by attempting to speak to 
me ?' You never uttered a word of that, Mr. FrankUn ; but 
you said it all to me, nevertheless ! Is such madness as this 
to be accounted for? No. There is nothing to be done but 
to confess it, and let it be. 

"I ask your pardon, once more, for this wandering of my 
pen. There is no fear of its happening again. I am close at 
the end now. 

"The first person who disturbed me by coming into the 
empty room was Penelope. She had found out my secret 
long since, and she had done her best to bring me to my 
senses — and done it kindly too. 

" 'Ah !' she said, 'I know why you're sitting here and fret- 
ting, all by yourself. The best thing that can happen for your 
advantage, Rosanna, will be for Mr. Franklin's visit here to 
come to an end. It's my belief that it won't be long now 
before he leaves the house.' 

"In all my thoughts of you I had never thought of your 
going away. I couldn't speak to Penelope. I could only 
look at her. 

" 'I've just left Miss Rachel,' Penelope went on. 'And a 
hard matter I have had of it to put up with her temper. She 
says the house is unbearable to her with the police in it ; 
and she's determined to speak to my lady this evening, and 
to go to her Aunt Ablewhite to-morrow. If she does that, 
Mr. Franklin will be the next to find a reason for going away, 
you may depend on it !' 

"I recovered the use of my tongue at that. 'Do you mean 
to say Mr. Franklin will go with her?' I asked. 

" 'Only too gladly, if she would let him ; but she won't. 
He has been made to feel her temper ; he is in her black books 
too — and that after having done all he can to help her, poor 
fellow ! No, no ! If they don't make it up before to-morrow, 
you will see Miss Rachel go one way, and Mr. Franklin 
another. Where he may betake himself to I can't say. But 
he will never stay here, Rosanna, after Miss Rachel has 
left us.' 

"I managed to master the despair I felt at the prospect of 

360 



THE MOONSTONE 

your going away. To own the truth, I saw a Httle glimpse 
of hope for myself if there was really a serious disagreement 
between Miss Rachel and you. 'Do you know,' I asked, 'what 
the quarrel is between them ?' 

" 'It's all on Miss Rachel's side,' Penelope said. 'And, for 
any thing I know to the contrary, it's all Miss Rachel's temper 
and nothing else. I am loath to distress you, Rosanna ; but 
don't run away with the notion that Mr. Franklin is ever 
likely to quarrel with her. He's a great deal too fond of her 
for that !' 

"She had only just spoken those cruel words when there 
came a call to us from Mr. Betteredge. All the indoor ser- 
vants were to assemble in the hall. And then we were to go 
in, one by one, and be questioned in Mr. Bcttcredge's room 
by Sergeant Cufif. 

"It came to my turn to go in, after her ladyship's maid 
and the upper house-maid had been questioned first. Ser- 
geant Cuff's inquiries — though he wrapped them up very cun- 
ningly — soon showed me that those two women, the bitterest 
enemies I had in the house, had made their discoveries out- 
side my door, on the Thursday afternoon, and again on the 
Thursday night. They had told the Sergeant enough to open 
his eyes to some part of the truth. He rightly believed me 
to have made a new night-gown secretly, but he wrongly 
believed the paint-stained night-gown to be mine. I felt 
satisfied of another thing, from what he said, which it puzzled 
me to understand. He suspected me, of course, of being 
concerned in the disappearance of the Diamond. But, at the 
same time, he let me see — purposely, as I thought — that he 
did not consider me as the person chiefly answerable for the 
loss of the jewel. He appeared to think that I had been act- 
ing under the direction of somebody else. Who that person 
might be, I couldn't guess then, and can't guess now. 

"In this uncertainty, one thing was plain — that Sergeant 
Cuff was miles away from knowing the whole truth. You 
were safe as long as the night-gown was safe — and not a 
moment longer. 

"I quite despair of making you understand the distress and 
terror which pressed upon me now. It was impossible for 
me to risk wearing your night-gown any longer. I might 

361 



THE MOONSTONE 

find myself taken off, at a moment's notice, to the police court 
at Frizinghall, to be charged on suspicion and searched ac- 
cordingly. While Sergeant Cuff still left me free, I had to 
choose — and that at once — between destroying the night- 
gown, or hiding it in some safe place, at some safe distance 
from the house. 

"If I had only been a little less fond of you, I think I should 
have destroyed it. But, oh ! how could I destroy the only 
thing I had which proved that I had saved you from dis- 
covery? If we did come to an explanation together and if 
you suspected me of having some bad motive and denied it 
all, how could I win upon you to trust me, unless I had the 
night-gown to produce? Was it wronging you to believe, 
as I did and do still, that you might hesitate to let a poor girl 
like me be the sharer of your secret, and your accomplice in 
the theft which your money-troubles had tempted you to 
commit? Think of your cold behavior to me, sir, and you 
will hardly wonder at my unwillingness to destroy the only 
claim on your confidence and your gratitude which it was my 
fortune to possess. 

"1 determined to hide it ; and the place I fixed on was the 
place I knew best — the Shivering Sand. 

"As soon as the questioning was over I made the first ex- 
cuse that came into my head, and got leave to go out for a 
breath of fresh air. I went straight to Cobb's Hole, to Mr. 
Yolland's cottage. His wife and daughter were the best 
friends I had. Don't suppose I trusted them with your 
secret — I have trusted nobody. All I wanted was to 
write this letter to you, and to have a safe opportunity of 
taking the night-gown off me. Suspected as I was, I could 
do neither of those things, with any sort of security, up at 
the house. 

"And now I have nearly got through my long letter, writ- 
ing it alone in Lucy Yolland's bedroom. When it is done, I 
shall go down stairs with the night-gown rolled up, and hid- 
den under my cloak. I shall find the means I want for keep- 
ing it safe and dry in its hiding-place, among the litter of 
old things in Mrs. Yolland's kitchen. And then I shall go 
to the Shivering Sand — don't be afraid of my letting my foot- 
marks betray me ! — and hide the night-gown down in the 

363 



THE MOONSTONE 

sand, where no living creature can find it without being first 
let into the secret by myself. 

"And when that is done, what then? 

"Then, Mr. Franklin, I shall have two reasons for making 
another attempt to say the words to you which I have not 
said yet. If you leave the house, as Penelope believes you 
will leave it and if I haven't spoken to you before that, I 
shall lose my opportunity forever. That is oj:ie reason. Then, 
again, there is the comforting knowledge — if my speaking 
does make you angry — that I have got the night-gown ready 
to plead my cause for me as nothing else can. That is my 
other reason. If these two together don't harden my heart 
against the coldness which has hitherto frozen it up, I mean 
the coldness of your treatment of me, there will be the end 
of my efforts — and the end of my life. 

"Yes ; if I miss my next opportunity — if you are as cruel 
as ever, and if I feel it again as I have felt it already — good- 
bye to the world which has grudged me the happiness that 
it gives to others. Good-bye to life, which nothing but a little 
kindness from yoii can ever make pleasurable to me again. 
Don't blame yourself, sir, if it ends in this way. But try — 
do try — to feel some forgiving sorrow for me ! I shall take 
care that you find out what I have done for you when I am 
past telling you of it myself. Will you say something kind 
of me then — in the same gentle way that you have when you 
speak to Miss Rachel? If you do that and if there are such 
things as ghosts, I believe my ghost will hear it and tremble 
with the pleasure of it. 

"It's time I left off. I am making myself cry. How am I 
to see my way to the hiding-place, if I let these useless tears 
come and blind me? 

"Besides, why should I look at the gloomy side ? Why not 
believe, while I can, that it will end well after all? I may 
find you in a good humor to-night — or, if not, I may succeed 
better to-morrow morning. I sha'n't improve my poor plain 
face by fretting — shall I ? Who knows but I may have filled 
all these weary long pages of paper for nothing? They 
will go, for safety's sake, never mind now for what other 
reason, into the hiding-place, along with the night-gown. 
It has been hard, hard work writing my letter. Oh ! if we 

2>^3 



THE MOONSTONE 

only end in understanding each other, how I shall enjoy tear- 
ing it up ! 

*T beg to remain, sir, your true-lover and humble servant, 

"RosANNA Spearman." 

The reading of the letter was completed by Betteredge in 
silence. After carefully putting it back in the envelope, he 
sat thinking, with his head bowed down, and his eyes on the 
ground. 

"Betteredge," I said, "is there any hint to guide us at the 
end of the letter?" 

He looked up slowly, with a heavy sigh. 

"There is nothing to guide you, Mr. Franklin," he an- 
swered. "If you will take my advice, you will keep the letter 
in the cover till these present anxieties of yours have come 
to an end. It will sorely distress you, whenever you read it. 
Don't read it now." 

I put the letter away in my pocket-book. 

A glance back at the sixteenth and seventeenth chapters 
of Betteredge's Narrative will show that there really was a 
reason for my thus sparing myself, at a time when my forti- 
tude had been already cruelly tried. Twice over, the un- 
happy woman had made her last attempt to speak to me. And 
twice over, it had been my misfortune — God knows how inno- 
cently ! — to repel the advances she had made to me. On the 
Friday night, as Betteredge truly describes it, she had found 
me alone at the billiard-table. Her manner and her language 
had suggested to me — and would have suggested to any man 
under the circumstances — that she was about to confess a 
guilty knowledge of the disappearance of the Diamond. For 
her own sake, I had purposely shown no special interest in 
what was coming ; for her own sake, I had purposely looked 
at the billiard-balls, instead of looking at her — and what had 
been the result? I had sent her away from me, wounded to 
the heart ! On the Saturday again — on the day when she 
must have foreseen, after what Penelope had told her, that 
my departure was close at hand — the same fatality still pur- 
sued us. She had once more attempted to meet me in the 
shrubbery walk, and she had found me there in company with 
Betteredge and Sergeant Cuff. In her hearing, the Sergeant, 

364 



THE MOONSTONE 

with his own underhand object in view, had appealed to my 
interest in Rosanna Spearman. Again, for the poor crea- 
ture's own sake, I had met the poHce officer with a flat denial, 
and had declared — loudly declared, so that she might hear me 
too — that I felt "no interest whatever in Rosanna Spearman." 
At those words, solely designed to warn her against attempt- 
ing to gain my private ear, she had turned away, and left the 
place : cautioned of her danger, as I then believed ; self- 
doomed to destruction, as I know now. From that point, I 
have already traced the succession of events which led me 
to the astounding discovery at the quicksand. The retrospect 
is now complete. I may leave the miserable story of Rosanna 
Spearman- — to which, even at this distance of time, I can not 
even revert without a pang of distress — to suggest for itself 
all that is here purposely left unsaid. I may pass from the 
suicide at the Shivering Sand, with its strange and terrible 
influence on my present position and my future prospects, 
to interests which concern the living people of this narrative 
and to events which were already paving my way for the 
slow and toilsome journey from the darkness to the light. 



CHAPTER VI. 

I WALKED to the railway station accompanied, it is need- 
less to say, by Gabriel Betteredge. I had the letter in my 
pocket and the night-gown safely packed in a little bag — 
both to be submitted, before I slept that night, to the investi- 
gation of Mr. Bruflf. 

We left the house in silence. For the first time in my ex- 
perience of him, I found old Betteredge in my company with- 
out a word to say to me. Having something to say on my 
side, I opened the conversation as soon as we were clear of 
the lodge-gates. 

"Before I go to London," I began, "I have two questions 
to ask you. They relate to myself and I believe they will 
rather surprise you." 

"If they will put that poor creature's letter out of my head, 

365 



THE MOONSTONE 

Mr. Franklin, they may do any thing else they like with me. 
Please to begin surprising me, sir, as soon as you can." 

"My first question, Betteredge, is this : Was I drunk on 
the night of Rachel's birthday ?" 

"You drunk!" exclaimed the old man. "Why, it's the 
great defect of your character, Mr. Franklin, that you only 
drink with your dinner and never touch a drop of liquor 
afterward !" 

"But the birthday was a special occasion. I might have 
abandoned my regular habits, on that night of all others." 

Betteredge considered for a moment. 

"You did go out of your habits, sir," he said. "And I'll 
tell you how. You looked wretchedly ill — and we persuaded 
you to have a drop of brandy and water to cheer you up a 
little." 

"I am not used to brandy and water. It is quite pos- 
sible—" 

"Wait a bit, Mr. Franklin. I knew you were not used, too. 
I poured you out half a wine-glassful of our fifty-year-old 
Cognac ; and — more shame for me ! — I drowned that noble 
liquor in nigh on a tumblerful of cold water. A child couldn't 
have got drunk on it, let alone a grown man !" 

I knew I could depend on his memory in a matter of this 
kind. It was plainly impossible that I could have been intoxi- 
cated. I passed on to the second question. 

"Before I was sent abroad, Betteredge, you saw a great 
deal of me when I was a boy? Now tell me plainly, do you 
remember any thing strange of me, after I had gone to bed 
at night? Did you ever discover me walking in my sleep?" 

Betteredge stopped, looked at me for a moment, nodded 
his head, and walked on again. 

"I see your drift now, Mr. Franklin!" he said. "You're 
trying to account for how you got the paint on your night- 
gown, without knowing it yourself. It won't do, sir. You're 
miles away still from getting at the truth. Walk in your 
sleep? You never did such a thing in 3'our life!" 

Here again I felt that Betteredge must be right. Neither 
at home nor abroad had my life ever been of the solitary sort. 
If I had been a sleep-walker, there were hundreds on hun- 
dreds of people who must have discovered me, and who, in 

366 



THE MOONSTONE 

the interests of my own safety, would have warned me of the 
habit and have taken precautions to restrain it. 

Still, admitting all this, I clung — with an obstinacy which 
was surely natural and excusable, under the circumstances — 
to one or other of the only two explanations that I could see 
which accounted for the unendurable position in which I then 
stood. Observing that I was not yet satisfied, Betteredge 
shrewdly adverted to certain later events in the history of 
the Moonstone ; and scattered both my theories to the winds 
at once and forever. 

"Let's try it another way, sir," he said. "Keep your own 
opinion and see how far it will take you toward finding out 
the truth. If w^e are to believe the night-gown — which I 
don't, for one — you not only smeared off the paint from the 
door without knowing it, but you also took the Diamond 
without knowing it. Is that right, so far?" 

"Quite right. Go on." 

"Very good, sir. We'll say you were drunk, or walking 
in your sleep, when you took the jewel. That accounts for 
the night and morning after the birthday. But how does 
it account for what has happened since that time? The Dia- 
mond has been taken to London since that time. The 
Diamond has been pledged to Mr. Luker since that time. 
Did you do those two things, without knowing it, too ? Were 
you drunk when I saw you off in the ponv-chaise on that 
Saturday evening? And did you walk in your sleep to Mr. 
Luker's, when the train had brought you to your journey's 
end? Excuse me for saying it, Mr. Franklin, but this busi- 
ness has so upset you, that you're not fit yet to judge for 
yourself. The sooner you lay your head alongside of Mr. 
Bruff's head, the sooner you will see your way out of the 
dead-lock that has got you now." 

We reached the station, with only a minute or two to 
spare. 

I hurriedly gave Betteredge my address in London, so that 
he might write to me, if necessary ; promising, on my side, 
to inform him of any news which I might have to communi- 
cate. This done, and just as I was bidding him farewell, T 
happened to glance toward the book-and-newspaper stall. 
There was Mr. Candy's remarkable-looking assistant again, 

367 



THE MOONSTONE 

speaking to the keeper of the stall ! Our eyes met at the 
same moment. Ezra Jennings took off his hat to me. I re- 
turned the salute and got into a carriage just as the train 
started. It was a relief to my mind, I suppose, to dwell on 
any subject which appeared to be, personally, of no sort of 
importance to me. At all events, I began the momentous 
journey back which was to take me to Mr. Bruff, wondering 
— absurdly enough, I admit — that I should have seen the man 
with the piebald hair twice in one day ! 

The hour at which I arrived in London precluded all hope 
of my finding Mr. Bruff at his place of business. I drove 
from the railway to his private residence at Hampstead, and 
disturbed the old lawyer dozing alone in his dining-room, 
with his favorite pug-dog on his lap, and his bottle of wine 
at his elbow. 

I shall best describe the effect which my story produced 
on the mind of Mr. Bruff by relating his proceedings when 
he had heard it to the end. He ordered lights and strong 
tea, to be taken into his study ; and he sent a message to the 
ladies of his family, forbidding them to disturb us on any 
pretense whatever. These preliminaries disposed of, he first 
examined the night-gown and then devoted himself to the 
reading of Rosanna Spearman's letter. 

The reading completed, Mr. Bruff addressed me for the 
first time since we had been shut up together in the seclusion 
of his own room. 

"Franklin Blake," said the old gentleman, "this is a very 
serious matter, in more respects than one. In my opinion, 
it concerns Rachel quite as nearly as it concerns you. Her 
extraordinary conduct is no mystery nozv. She believes you 
have stolen the Diamond." 

I had shrunk from reasoning my own way fairly to that 
revolting conclusion. But it had forced itself on me never- 
theless. My resolution to obtain a personal interview with 
Rachel rested really and truly on the ground just stated by 
Mr. Bruff. 

"The first step to take in this investigation," the lawyer 
proceeded, "is to appeal to Rachel. She has been silent all 
this time, from motives which I, who know her character, 

368 



THE MOONSTONE 

can readily understand. It is impossible, after what has hap- 
pened, to submit to that silence any longer. She must be 
persuaded to tell us, or she must be forced to tell us, on what 
grounds she bases her belief that you took the Moonstone. 
The chances are, that the whole of this case, serious as it 
seems now, will tumble to pieces, if we can only break through 
Rachel's inveterate reserve, and prevail upon her to speak 
out." 

"That is a very comforting opinion for me," I said. "I 
own I should like to know — " 

"You would like to know how I can justify it," interposed 
Mr. Bruff. "I can tell you in two minutes. Understand, in 
the first place, that I look at this matter from a lawyer's point 
of view. It's a question of evidence with me. Very well. 
The evidence breaks down, at the outset, on one important 
point." 

"On what point?" 

"You shall hear. I admit that the mark of the name proves 
the night-gown to be yours. I admit that the mark of the 
paint proves the night-gown to have made the smear on 
Rachel's door. But what evidence is there, before you or be- 
fore me, to prove that you are the person who wore the night- 
gown ?" 

The objection electrified me. It had never occurred to 
my mind vmtil that moment. 

"As to this," pursued the lawyer, taking up Rosanna Spear- 
man's confession, "I can understand that the letter is a dis- 
tressing one to yon. I can understand that you may hesitate 
to analyze it from a purely impartial point of view. But / 
am not in your position. I can bring my professional experi- 
ence to bear on this document, just as I should bring it to 
bear on any other. Without alluding to the woman's career 
as a thief, I will merely remark that her letter proves her to 
have been an adept at deception, on her own showing; and 
I argue from that, that I am justified in suspecting her of 
not having told the whole truth. I won't start any theory, 
at present, as to what she may or may not have done. I will 
only say that, if Rachel has suspected you on the evidence of 
the night-gown only, the chances are ninety-nine to a hundred 
that Rosanna Spearman was the person who showed it to 

24 369 



THE MOONSTONE 

her. In that case, there is the woman's letter, confessing that 
she was jealous of Rachel, confessing that she changed the 
roses, confessing that she saw a glimpse of hope for herself, 
in the prospect of a quarrel between Rachel and you. I don't 
stop to ask who took the Moonstone — as a means to her end, 
Rosanna Spearman would have taken fifty Moonstones — I 
only say that the disappearance of the jewel gave this re- 
claimed thief, who was in love with you, an opportunity of 
setting you and Rachel at variance for the rest of your lives. 
She had not decided on destroying herself, then, remember ; 
and, having the opportunity, I distinctly assert that it was 
in her character, and in her position at the time, to take it. 
What do you say to that?" 

"Some such suspicion," I answered, "crossed my own 
mind, as soon as I opened the letter." 

"Exactly ! And when you had read the letter, you pitied 
the poor creature, and couldn't find it in your heart to suspect 
her. Does you credit, my dear sir — does you credit !" 

"But suppose it turns out that I did wear the night-gown? 
What then?" 

"I don't see how that fact is to be proved," said Mr. Bruif. 
"But assuming the proof to be possible, the vindication of 
your innocence would be no easy matter. We won't go into 
that, now. Let us wait and see whether Rachel hasn't sus- 
pected you on the evidence of the night-gown only." 

"Good God, how coolly you talk of Rachel suspecting me !" 
I broke out. "What right has she to suspect me, on any evi- 
dence, of being a thief?" 

"A very sensible question, my dear sir. Rather hotly put 
— but well worth considering for all that. What puzzles you, 
puzzles me too. Search your memory, and tell me this : Did 
any thing happen while you were staying at the house — not, 
of course, to shake Rachel's belief in your honor — but, let 
us say, to shake her belief, no matter with how little reason, 
in your principles generally?" 

I started, in ungovernable agitation, to my feet. The law- 
yer's question reminded me, for the first time since I had left 
England, that something had happened. 

In the eighth chapter of Betteredge's Narrative, an allusion 
will be found to the arrival of a foreigner and a stranger at 

3,7° 



THE MOONSTONE 

my aunt's house, who came to see me on business. The 
nature of his business was this : 

I had been foohsh enough, being, as usual, straitened 
for money at the time, to accept a loan from the keeper of a 
small restaurant in Paris, to whom I was well known as a 
customer. A time was settled between us for paying the 
money back ; and when the time came, I found it, as thousands 
of other honest men have found it, impossible to keep my 
engagement. I sent the man a bill. My name was unfortu- 
nately too well known on such documents : he failed to nego- 
tiate it. His affairs had fallen into disorder, in the interval 
since I had borrowed of him ; bankruptcy stared him in the 
face ; and a relative of his, a French lawyer, came to England 
to find me and to insist on the payment of my debt. He was 
a man of violent temper ; and he took the wrong way with 
me. High words passed on both sides ; and my aunt and 
Rachel were unfortunately in the next room and heard us. 
Lady Verinder came in, and insisted on knowing what was 
the matter. The Frenchman produced his credentials, and 
declared me to be responsible for the ruin of a poor man, who 
had trusted in my honor. My aunt instantly paid him the 
money and sent him off. She knew me better, of course, 
than to take the Frenchman's view of the transaction. But 
she was shocked at my carelessness, and justly angry with 
me for placing myself in a position which, but for her inter- 
ference, might have become a very disgraceful one. Either 
her mother told her, or Rachel heard what passed — I can't 
say which. She took her own romantic, high-flown view of 
the matter. I was ''heartless" ; I was "dishonorable" ; I had 
"no principle" ; there was "no knowing what I might do next" 
— in short, she said some of the severest things to me which 
I had ever heard from a young lady's lips. The breach be- 
tween us lasted for the whole of the next day. The day 
after, I succeeded in making my peace and thought no more 
of it. Had Rachel reverted to this unlucky accident at the 
critical moment when my place in her estimation was again, 
and far more seriously, assailed? Mr. Bruff, when I had 
mentioned the circumstances to him, answered that question 
at once in the affirmative. 

"It would have its effect on her mind," he said, gravely. 

371 



THE MOONSTONE 

"And I wish, for your sake, the thing had not happened. 
However, we have discovered that there was a predisposing 
influence against you — and there is one uncertainty cleared 
out of our way, at any rate. I see nothing more that we can 
do now. Our next step in this inquiry must be the step that 
tal<es us to Rachel." 

He rose, and began walking thoughtfully up and down the 
room. Twice I was on the point of telling him that I had 
determined on seeing Rachel personally ; and twice, having 
regard to his age and his character, I hesitated to take him 
by surprise at an unfavorable moment. 

"The grand difficulty is," he resumed, "how to make her 
show her whole mind in this matter, without reserve. Have 
you any suggestion to offer?" 

"I have made up my mind, Mr. Bruff, to speak to Rachel 
myself." 

"You !" He suddenly stopped in his walk, and looked at 
me as if he thought I had taken leave of my senses. "You, 
of all the people in the world !" He abruptly checked him- 
self and took another turn in the room. "Wait a little," he 
said. "In cases of this extraordinary kind, the rash way is 
sometimes the best way." He considered the question for a 
moment or two, under that new light, and ended boldly by a 
decision in my favor. "Nothing venture, nothing have," the 
old gentleman resumed. "You have a chance in your favor 
which I don't possess — and you shall be the first to try the 
experiment." 

"A chance in my favor?" I repeated, in the greatest sur- 
prise. 

Mr. Bruff's face softened, for the first time, into a smile. 

"This is how it stands," he said. "I tell you fairly, I don't 
trust your discretion, and I don't trust your temper. But I 
do trust in Rachel's still preserving, in some remote little 
corner of her heart, a certain perverse weakness for yon. 
Touch that — and trust to the consequences for the fullest dis- 
closure that can flow from a woman's lips ! The question is 
— how are you to see her?" 

"She has been a guest of yours at this house," I answered. 
"May I venture to suggest — if nothing was said about me 
beforehand — that I might see her here?" 

372 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Cool !" said Mr. Bruff. With that one word of comment 
on the reply that I had made to him, he took another turn 
up and down the room. 

"In plain English," he said, "my house is to be turned into 
a trap to catch Rachel; with a bait to tempt her, in the 
shape of an invitation from my wife and daughters. If you 
were any body else but Franklin Blake, and if this matter 
was one atom less serious than it really is, I should refuse 
point-blank. As things are, I firmly believe Rachel will live 
to thank me for turning traitor to her in my old age. Con- 
sider me your accomplice. Rachel shall be asked to spend the 
day here ; and you shall receive due notice of it." 

"When ? To-morrow ?" 

"To-morrow won't give us time enough to get her answer. 
Say the day after." 

"How shall I hear from you ?" 

"Stay at home all the morning, and expect me to call on 
you." 

I thanked him for the inestimable assistance which he was 
rendering to me, with the gratitude which I really felt ; and, 
declining a hospitable invitation to sleep that night at Hamp- 
stead, returned to my lodgings in London. 

Of the day that followed, I have only to say that it was 
the longest day of my life. Innocent as I knew myself to 
be, certain as I was that the abominable imputation which 
rested on me must sooner or later be cleared off, there was 
nevertheless a sense of self-abasement in my mind which in- 
stinctively disinclined me to see any of my friends. We often 
hear, almost invariably, however, from superficial observers, 
that guilt can look like innocence. I believe it to be infinitely 
the truer axiom of the two that innocence can look like guilt. 
I caused myself to be denied, all day, to every visitor who 
called ; and I only ventured out under cover of the night. 

The next morning Mr. Bruff surprised me at the breakfast- 
table. He handed me a large key, and announced that he 
felt ashamed of himself for the first time in his life. 

"Is she coming?" 

"She is coming to-day, to lunch and spend the afternoon 
with my wife and my girls." 

"Are Mrs. Bruff and your daughters in the secret?" 

373 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Inevitably. But women, as you may have observed, have 
no principles. My family don't feel my pangs of conscience. 
The end being to bring you and Rachel together again, my 
wife and daughters pass over the means employed to gain it, 
as composedly as if they were Jesuits." 

"I am infinitely obliged to them. What is this key?" 

"The key of the gate in my back-garden wall. Be there 
at three this afternoon. Let yourself into the garden, and 
make your way in by the conservatory door. Cross the small 
drawing-room, and open the door in front of you which leads 
into the music-room. There you will find Rachel — and find 
her alone." 

"How can I thank you?" 

"I will tell you how. Don't blame me for what happens 
afterward." 

With those words, he went out. 

I had many weary hours still to wait through. To while 
away the time, I looked at my letters. Among them was a 
letter from Betteredge. 

I opened it eagerly. To my surprise and disappointment, 
it began with an apology warning me to expect no news of 
any importance. In the next sentence the everlasting Ezra 
Jennings appeared again ! He had stopped Betteredge on the 
way out of the station, and had asked who I was. Informed 
on this point, he had mentioned having seen me to his master, 
Mr. Candy. Mr. Candy hearing of this, had himself driven 
over to Betteredge, to express his regret at our having missed 
each other. He had a reason for wishing particularly to speak 
to me ; and when I was next in the neighborhood of Frizing- 
hall, he begged I would let him know. Apart from a few 
characteristic utterances of the Betteredge philosophy, this 
was the sum and substance of my correspondent's letter. The 
warm-hearted, faithful old man acknowledged that he had 
written "mainly for the pleasure of writing to me." 

I crumpled up the letter in my pocket, and forgot it the 
moment after, in the all-absorbing interest of my coming 
interview with Rachel. 

As the clock of Hampstead church struck three, I put Mr. 
Bruff's key into the lock of the door in the wall. When I 
first stepped into the garden and while I was securing the 

374 



THE MOONSTONE 

door again on the inner side, I own to having felt a certain 
guilty doubtfulness about what might happen next. I looked 
furtively on either side of me, suspicious of the presence of 
some unexpected witness in some unknown corner of the 
garden. Nothing appeared, to justify my apprehensions. 
The walks were, one and all, solitudes ; and the birds and 
the bees were the only witnesses. 

I passed through the garden ; entered the conservatory ; 
and crossed the small drawing-room. As I laid my hand on 
the door opposite, I heard a few plaintive chords struck on 
the piano in the room within. She had often idled over the 
instrument in this way, when I was staying at her mother's 
house. I was obliged to wait a little, to steady myself. The 
past and present rose, side by side, at that supreme moment 
— and 'the contrast shook me. 

After the lapse of a few moments, I roused my manhood, 
and opened the door. 



CHAPTER Vn. 

AT the moment when I showed myself in the door-way, 
. Rachel rose from the piano. 

I closed the door behind me. We confronted each other 
in silence, with the full length of the room between us. The 
movement she had made in rising appeared to be the one 
exertion of which she was capable. All use of every other 
faculty, bodily or mental, seemed to be merged in the mere 
act of looking at me. 

A fear crossed my mind that I had shown myself too sud- 
denly. I advanced a few steps toward her. I said gently, 
"Rachel !" 

The sound of my voice brought the life back to her limbs, 
and the color to her face. She advanced, on her side, still 
without speaking. Slowly, as if she was acting under some 
influence independent of her own will, she came nearer and 
nearer to me ; the warm dusky color flushing her cheeks, the 
light of reviving intelligence brightening every instant in her 
eyes. I forgot the object that had brought me into her pres- 
ence ; I forgot the vile suspicion that rested on my good name 

375 



THE MOONSTONE 

— I forgot every consideration, past, present, and future^ 
which I was bound to remember. I saw nothing but the 
woman I loved coming nearer and nearer to me. She trem- 
bled ; she stood irresolute. I could resist it no longer — I 
caught her in my arms, and covered her face with kisses. 

There was a moment when I thought the kisses were re- 
turned ; a moment when it seemed as if she, too, might have 
forgotten. Almost before the idea could shape itself in my 
mind, her first voluntary action made me feel that she remem- 
bered. With a cry which was like a cry of horror — with a 
strength which I doubt if I could have resisted if I had tried 
— she thrust me back from her. I saw merciless anger in her 
eyes ; I saw merciless contempt on her lips. She looked me 
over, from head to foot, as she might have looked at a stranger 
who had insulted her. 

"You coward !" she said. "You mean, miserable, heartless 
coward !" 

Those were her first words ! The most unendurable re- 
proach tliat a woman can address to a man was the reproach 
that she picked out to address to me. 

'T remember the time, Rachel," I said, ."when you could 
have told me that I had offended you in a worthier way than 
that. I beg your pardon." 

Something of the bitterness that I felt may have commu- 
nicated itself to my voice. At the first words of my reply, 
her eyes, which had been turned away the moment before, 
looked back at me unwillingly. She answered in a low tone, 
with a sullen submission of manner which was quite new in 
my experience of her. 

"Perhaps there is some excuse for me," she said. "After 
what you have done, it seems a mean action, on your part, 
to find your way to me as you have found it to-day. It seems 
a cowardly experiment, to try an experiment on my weakness 
for you. It seems a cowardly surprise, to surprise me into 
letting you kiss me. But that is only a woman's view. I 
ought to have known it couldn't be 3'our view. I should have 
done better if I had controlled myself and said nothing." 

The apology was more unendurable than the insult. The 
most degraded man living would have felt humiliated by it. 

"If my honor was not in your hands," I said, "I would 

376 



THE MOONSTONE 

leave you this instant, and never see you again. You have 
spoken of what I have done. What have I done ?" 

"What have you done ! Yoti ask that question of me ?" 

'T ask it." 

"I have kept your infamy a secret," she answered. "And 
I have suffered the consequences of conceahng it. Have I 
no claim to be spared the insult of your asking me what you 
have done? Is all sense of gratitude dead in you? You 
were once a gentleman. You were once dear to my mother, 
and dearer still to me — " 

Her voice failed her. She dropped into a chair, and turned 
her back on me, and covered her face with her hands. 

I waited a little before I trusted myself to say any more. 
In that moment of silence I hardly know which I felt most 
keenly — the sting which her contempt had planted in me, or 
the proud resolution which shut me out from all community 
with her distress. 

"If you will not speak first," I said, "I must. I have come 
here with something serious to say to you. Will you do mc 
the common justice of listening while I say it?" 

She neither moved nor answered. I made no second ap- 
peal to her ; I never advanced an inch nearer to her chair. 
With a pride which was as obstinate as her pride, I told her 
of my discovery at the Shivering Sand, and of all that had 
led to it. The narrative, of necessity, occupied some little 
time. From beginning to end she never looked round at mc, 
and she never uttered a word. 

I kept my temper. My whole future depended, in all prob- 
ability, on my not losing possession of myself at that moment. 
The time had come to put Mr. Bruff's theory to the test. In 
the breathless interest of trying that experiment, I moved 
round so as to place myself in front of her. 

"I have a question to ask you," I said. "It obliges me to 
refer again to a painful subject. Did Rosanna Spearman 
show you the night-gown? Yes, or No?" 

She started to her feet ; and walked close up to mc 
of her own accord. Her eyes looked me scarchingly in the 
face, as if to read something there which they had never 
read yet. 

"Are you mad?" she asked. 

377 



THE MOONSTONE 

I still restrained myself. I said, quietly, "Rachel, will you 
answer my question ?" 

She went on, without heeding me, 

"Have you some object to gain which I don't understand? 
Some mean fear about the future, in which I am concerned? 
They say your father's death has made you a rich man. Have 
you come here to compensate me for the loss of my Diamond ? 
And have you heart enough left to feel ashamed of your 
errand? Is that the secret of your pretense of innocence, 
and your story about Rosanna Spearman ? Is there a motive 
of shame at the bottom of all the falsehood, this time?" 

I stopped her there. I could control myself no longer. 

"You have done me an infamous wrong !" I broke out 
hotly. "You suspect me of stealing your Diamond. I have 
a right to know, and I zeill know, the reason why !" 

"Suspect you !" she exclaimed, her anger rising with mine. 
"You villain, I saw you take the Diamond with my ozvn eyes!" 

The revelation which burst upon me in those words, the 
overthrow which they instantly accomplished of the whole 
view of the case on which Mr. Bruff had relied, struck me 
helpless. Innocent as I was, I stood before her in silence. 
To her eyes, to any eyes, I must have looked like a man over- 
whelmed by the discovery of his own guilt. 

She drew back from the spectacle of my humiliation, and 
of her triumph. The sudden silence that had fallen upon 
me seemed to frighten her. "I spared you at the time," she 
said. "I would have spared you now, if you had not forced 
me to speak." She moved away as if to leave the room — 
and hesitated before she got to the door. "Why did you come 
here to humiliate yourself?" she asked. "Why did you come 
here to humiliate me?" She went on a few steps, and paused 
once more. "For God's sake say something!" she exclaimed, 
passionately. "If you have any mercy left, don't let me de- 
grade myself in this way ! Say something — and drive me out 
of the room !" 

I advanced toward her, hardly conscious of what I was 
doing. I had possibly some confused idea of detaining her 
until she had told me more. From the moment when I knew 
that the evidence on which I stood condemned in Rachel's 
mind, was the evidence of her own eyes, nothing — not even 

378 



THE MOONSTONE 

my conviction of my own innocence — was clear in my mind. 
I took her by the hand ; I tried to speak firmly and to the 
purpose. All I could say was, "Rachel, you once loved me." 
She shuddered, and looked away from me. Her hand lay 
powerless and trembling in mine. "Let go of it," she said, 
faintly. 

My touch seemed to have the same effect on her 
which the sound of my voice had produced when I first 
entered the room. After she had said the word which called 
me a coward, after she had made the avowal which branded 
me as a thief — while her hand lay in mine I was her mas- 
ter still! 

1 drew her gently back into the middle of the room. I 
seated her by the side of me. "Rachel," I said, 'T can't ex- 
plain the contradiction in what I am going to tell you. I 
can only speak the truth as you have spoken it. You saw 
me — with your own eyes, you saw me take the Diamond. 
Before God who hears us, I declare that I now know I took 
it for the first time ! Do you doubt me still ?" 

She had neither heeded nor heard me. "Let go of my 
hand," she repeated, faintly. That was her only answer. 
Her head sank on my shoulder; and her hand unconsciously 
closed on mine, at the moment when she asked me to re- 
lease it. 

I refrained from pressing the question. But there my for- 
bearance stopped. My chance of ever holding up my head 
again among honest men depended on my chance of inducing 
her to make her disclosure complete. The one hope left for 
me was the hope that she might have overlooked something 
in the chain of evidence — some mere trifle, perhaps, which 
might nevertheless, under careful investigation, be made the 
means of vindicating my innocence in the end. I own I kept 
possession of her hand. I own I spoke to her with all that 
I could summon back of the sympathy and the confidence 
of the by-gone time. 

"I want to ask you something," I said. "I want you to 
tell me every thing that happened, from the time when we 
wished each other good-night, to the time when you saw me 
take the Diamond." 

She lifted her head from my shoulder, and made an eflFort 

379 



THE MOONSTONE 

to release her hand. "Oh, why go back to it!" she said. 
"Why go back to it!" 

"I will tell you why, Rachel. You are the victim, and I 
am the victim, of some monstrous delusion which has worn 
the mask of truth. If we look at what happened on the 
night of your birthday, together, we may end in understand- 
ing each other yet." 

Her head dropped back on my shoulder. The tears gath- 
ered in her eyes, and fell slowly over her cheeks. "Oh !" she 
said, "have / never had that hope? Have / not tried to see 
it, as you are trying now ?" 

"You have tried by yourself," I answered. "You have not 
tried with me to help you." 

Those words seemed to awaken in her something of the 
hope which I felt myself when I uttered them. She replied 
to my questions with more than docility — she exerted her 
intelligence ; she willingly opened her whole mind to me. 

"Let us begin," I said, "with what happened after we had 
wished each other good-night. Did you go to bed? or did 
you sit up ?" 

"I went to bed." 

"Did you notice the time? Was it late?" 

"Not very. About twelve o'clock, I think." 

"Did you fall asleep?" 

"No. I couldn't sleep that night." 

"You were restless?" 

"I was thinking of you." 

The answer almost unmanned me. Something in the tone, 
even more than in the words, went straight to my heart. It 
was only after pausing a little first that I was able to go on. 

"Had you any light in your room?" I asked. 

"None — until I got up again, and lit my candle." 

"How long was that after you had gone to bed?" 

"About an hour after, I think. About one o'clock." 

"Did you leave your bedroom?" 

"I was going to leave it. I had put on my dressing-gown ; 
and I was going into my sitting-room to get a book — " 

"Had you opened your bedroom door?" 

'T had just opened it." 

"But you had not gone into the sitting-room?" 

380 



THE MOONSTONE 

"No — I was stopped from going into it." 

"What stopped you?" 

"I saw a light under the door; and I heard footsteps ap- 
proaching it." 

"Were you frightened?" 

"Not then. I knew my poor mother was a bad sleeper ; 
and I remembered that she had tried hard that evening to 
persuade me to let her take charge of my Diamond. She 
was unreasonably anxious about it, as I thought ; and I 
fancied she was coming to me to see if I was in bed, and to 
speak to me about the Diamond again, if she found that I 
was up." 

"What did you do?" 

"I blew out my candle, so that she might think I was in 
bed. I was unreasonable, on my side — I was determined to 
keep my Diamond in the place of my own choosing." 

"After blowing the candle out, did you go back to bed?" 

"I had no time to go back. At the moment when I blew 
the candle out the sitting-room door opened, and I saw — " 

"You saw?" 

"You." 

"Dressed as usual?" 

"No." 

"In my night-gown?" 

"In your night-gown — with your bedroom candle in your 
hand." 

"Alone?" 

"Alone." 

"Could you see my face?" 

"Yes." 

"Plainly?" 

"Quite plainly. The candle in your hand showed it to me." 

"Were my eyes open?" 

"Yes." 

"Did you notice any thing strange in them? Any thing 
like a fixed, vacant expression ?" 

"Nothing of the sort. Your eyes were bright — brighter 
than usual. You looked about in the room as if you knew 
you were where you ought not to be and as if you were afraid 
of being found out." 

381 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Did you observe one thing when I came into the room — 
did you observe how I walked?" 

"You walked as you always do. You came in as far as 
the middle of the room — and then you stopped and looked 
about you." 

"What did you do on first seeing me?" 

"I could do nothing. I was petrified. I couldn't speak, 
I couldn't call out, I couldn't even move to shut my door." 

"Could I see you where you stood?" 

"You might certainly have seen me. But you never looked 
toward me. It's useless to ask the question. I am sure you 
never saw me." 

"How are you sure ?" 

"Would you have taken the Diamond? would you have 
acted as you did afterward? would you be here now — if you 
had seen that I was awake and looking at you ? Don't make 
me talk of that part of it! I want to answer you quietly. 
Help me to keep as calm as I can. Go on to something else." 

She was right — in every way, right. I went on to other 
things. 

"What did I do after I had got to the middle of the room 
and had stopped there?" 

"You turned away, and went straight to the corner near 
the window — where my Indian cabinet stands." 

"When I was at the cabinet my back must have been turned 
toward you. How did you see what I was doing?" 

"When you moved, I moved." 

"So as to see what I was about with my hands?" 

"There are three glasses in my sitting-room. As you stood 
there I saw all that you did reflected in one of them." 

"What did you see?" 

"You put your candle on the top of the cabinet. You opened 
and shut one drawer after another until you came to the 
drawer in which I had put my Diamond. You looked at the 
drawer for a moment. And then you put your hand in and 
took the Diamond out." 

"How do you know I took the Diamond out?" 

"I saw your hand go into the drawer. And I saw the 
gleam of the stone, between your finger and thumb, when 
you took your hand out." 

382 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Did my hand approach the drawer again — to close it, for 
instance?" 

"No. You had the Diamond in your right hand; and 
you took the candle from the top of the cabinet with your 
left hand." 

"Did I look about me again after that?" 

"No." 

"Did I leave the room immediately?" 

"No. You stood quite still for what seemed a long time. 
I saw your face sideways in the glass. You looked like a 
man thinking and dissatisfied with his own thoughts." 

"What happened next?" 

"You roused yourself on a sudden, and you went straight 
out of the room." 

"Did I close the door after me?" 

"No. You passed out quickly into the passage, and left 
the door open." 

"And then?" _ 

"Then your light disappeared, and the sound of your steps 
died away, and I was left alone in the dark." 

"Did nothing happen — from that time to the time when 
the whole house knew that the Diamond was lost?" 

"Nothing." 

"Are you sure of that ? Might you not have been asleep a 
part of the time ?" 

"I never slept. I never went back to my bed. Nothing 
happened until Penelope came in, at the usual time in the 
morning." 

I dropped her hand, and rose, and took a turn in the room. 
Every question that I could put had been answered. Every 
detail that I could desire to know had been placed before 
me. I had even reverted to the idea of sleep-walking and 
the idea of intoxication ; and, again, the worthlessness of the 
one theory and the other had been proved — on the authorit}', 
this time, of the witness who had seen me. What was to be 
said next? what was to be done next? There rose the hor- 
rible fact of the Theft — the one visible, tangible object that 
confronted me, in the midst of the impenetrable darkness 
which enveloped all besides ! Not a glimpse of light to guide 
me, when I had possessed myself of Rosanna Spearman's 

3^3 



THE MOONSTONE 

secret at the Shivering Sand. And not a ghmpse of Hght 
now, when I had appealed to Rachel herself, and had heard 
the hateful story of the night from her own lips. 

She was the first, this time, to break the silence. 

"Well?" she said, "you have asked, and I have answered. 
You have made me hope something from all this, because 
you hoped something from it. What have you to say now?" 

The tone in which she spoke warned me that my influence 
over her was a lost influence once more. 

"We were to look at what happened on my birthday night, 
together," she went on ; "and we were then to understand 
each other. Have we done that?" 

She waited pitilessly for my reply. In answering her I 
committed a fatal error — I let the exasperating helplessness 
of my situation get the better of my self-control. Rashly 
and uselessly, I reproached her for the silence which had kept 
me until that moment in ignorance of the truth. 

"If you had spoken when you ought to have spoken," I 
began; "if you had done me the common justice to explain 
yourself — " 

She broke in on me with a cry of fury. The few words I 
had said seemed to have lashed her on the instant into a 
frenzy of .rage. 

"Explain myself !" she repeated. "Oh ! is there another 
man like this in the world? I spare him, when my heart is 
breaking; I screen him when my own character is at stake; 
and he — of all human beings, he — turns on me now, and tells 
me that I ought to have explained myself! After believing 
in him as I did, after loving him as I did, after thinking of 
him by day, and dreaming of him by night — he wonders why 
I didn't charge him with his disgrace the first time we met : 
'My heart's darling, you are a thief! My hero whom I love 
and honor, you have crept into my room under cover of the 
night, and stolen my Diamond !' That is what I ought to 
have said. You villain, you mean, mean, mean villain, I 
would have lost fifty Diamonds rather than see your face 
lying to me, as I see it lying now !" 

I took up my hat. In mercy to her — yes ! I can honestly 
say it — in mercy to her, I turned away without a word, and 
opened the door by which I had entered the room. 

384 



THE MOONSTONE 

She followed, and snatched the door out of my hand ; she 
closed it, and pointed back to the place that I had left. 

"No!" she said. "Not yet! It seems that / owe a justi- 
fication of my conduct to you. You shall stay and hear it. 
Or you shall stoop to the lowest infamy of all and force your 
way out." 

It wrung my heart to see her; it wrung my heart to hear 
it. I answered by a sign — it was all I could do — that I sub- 
mitted myself to her will. 

The crimson flush of anger began to fade out of her face 
as I went back and took my chair in silence. She waited a 
little, and steadied herself. When she went on but one sign 
of feeling was discernible in her. She spoke without looking 
at me. Her hands were fast clasped in her lap, and her eyes 
were fixed on the ground. 

"I ought to have done you the common justice to explain 
myself," she said, repeating my own words. "You shall see 
whether I did try to do you justice or not. I told you just 
now that I never slept, and never returned to my bed, after 
you had left my sitting-room. It's useless to trouble you 
by dwelling on what I thought — you wouldn't understand 
my thoughts — I will only tell you what I did when time 
enough had passed to help me to recover myself. I refrained 
from alarming the house, and telling every body what had 
happened — as I ought to have done. In spite of what I had 
seen I was fond enough of you to believe — no matter what ! 
— any impossibility, rather than admit it to my own mind 
that you were deliberately a thief. I thought and thought 
— and I ended in writing to you." 

"I never received the letter." 

"I know you never* received it. Wait a little, and you 
shall hear why. My letter would have told you nothing 
openly. It would not have ruined you for life, if it had fallen 
into some other person's hands. It would only have said — 
in a manner which you yourself could not possibly have mis- 
taken — that I had reason to know you were in debt, and that 
it was in my experience and in my mother's experience of 
you, that you were not very discreet, or very scrupulous about 
how you got money when you wanted it. You would have 
remembered the visit of the French lawyer, and you would 

^ 385 



THE MOONSTONE 

have known what I referred to. If you had read on with 
some interest after that, you would have come to an offer I 
had to make to you — the offer, privately — not a word, mind, 
to be said openly about it between us! — of the loan of as 
large a sum of money as I could get. — And I would have got 
it!" she exclaimed, her color beginning to rise again, and her 
eyes looking up at me once more. "I would have pledged 
the Diamond myself, if I could have got the money in no 
other way ! In those words, I wrote to you. Wait ! I did 
more than that. I arranged with Penelope to give you the 
letter when nobody was near. I planned to shut myself into 
my bedroom, and to have the sitting-room left open and 
empty all the morning. And I hoped — with all my heart and 
soul I hoped ! — that you would take the opportunity, and put 
the Diamond back secretly in the drawer." 

I attempted to speak. She lifted her hand impatiently and 
stopped me. In the rapid alternations of her temper, her 
anger was beginning to rise again. She got up from her chair 
and approached me. 

"I know what you are going to say," she went on. "You 
are going to remind me again that you never received my 
letter. I can tell you why. I tore it up." 

"For what reason?" I asked. 

"For the best of reasons. I preferred tearing it up to 
throwing it away upon such a man as you ! What was the 
first news that reached me in the morning? Just as my little 
plan was complete, what did I hear? I heard that you — 
you ! — were the foremost person in the house in fetching the 
police. You were the active man ; you were the leader ; you 
were working harder than any of them to recover the jewel ! 
You even carried your audacity far enough to ask to speak 
to me about the loss of the Diamond — the Diamond which you 
yourself had stolen ; the Diamond which was all the time in 
your own hands ! After that proof of your horrible falseness 
and cunning, I tore up my letter. But even then — even when 
I was maddened by the searching and questioning of the 
policeman, whom you had sent in — even then, there was some 
infatuation in my mind which wouldn't let me give you up. 
I said to myself, 'He has played his vile farce before every 
body else in the house. Let me try if he can play it before 

386 



THE MOONSTONE 

me.' Somebody told me you were on the terrace. I went 
down to the terrace. I forced myself to look at you ; I forced 
myself to speak to you. Have you forgotten what I said?" 

I might have answered that I remembered every word of 
it. But what purpose, at that moment, would the answer 
have served? 

How could I tell her that what she had said had aston- 
ished me, had distressed me, had suggested to me that she 
was in a state of dangerous nervous excitement, had even 
roused a moment's doubt in my mind whether the loss of 
the jewel was as much a mystery to her as to the rest of us — 
but had never once given me so much as a glimpse at the 
truth ? Without the shadow of a proof to produce in vindica- 
tion of my innocence, how could I persuade her that I knew 
no more than the veriest stranger could have known of what 
was really in her thoughts when she spoke to me on the 
terrace ? 

"It may suit your convenience to forget ; it suits my con- 
venience to remember," she went on. "I know what I said 
— for I considered it with myself before I said it. I gave 
you one opportunity after another of owning the truth. I 
left nothing unsaid that I cotild say — short of actually telling 
you that I knew you had committed the theft. And all the 
return you made was to look at me with your vile pretense 
of astonishment and your false face of innocence — just as 
you have looked at me to-day ; just as you are looking at me 
now ! I left you that morning knowing you at last for what 
you were — for what you are — as base a wretch as ever 
walked the earth !" 

"If you had spoken out at the time you might have left 
me, Rachel, knowing that you had cruelly wronged an inno- 
cent man." 

"If I had spoken out before other people," she retorted, 
with another burst of indignation, "you would have been 
disgraced for life! If I had spoken out to no ears but yours, 
you would have denied it, as you are denying it now ! Do 
you think I should have believed you ? Would a man hesitate 
at a lie who had done what I saw you do — who had behaved 
about it afterward as I saw you behave? I tell you again, 
T shrank from the horror of hearing you lie, after the horror 

387 



THE MOONSTONE 

of seeing you thieve. You talk as if this was a misunder- 
standing which a few words might have set right ! Well ! 
the misunderstanding is at an end. Is the thing set right? 
No! the thing is just where it was. I don't believe you now! 
I don't believe you found the night-gown, I don't believe in 
Rosanna Spearman's letter, I don't believe a word you have 
said. You stole it — I saw you ! You affected to help the 
police — I saw you ! You pledged the Diamond to the money- 
lender in London — I am sure of it! You cast the suspicion 
of your disgrace — thanks to my base silence ! — on an innocent 
man ! You fled to the Continent with your plunder the next 
morning! After all the vileness, there was but one thing 
more you could do. You could come here with a last false- 
hood on your lips — you could come here and tell me that I 
have wronged you !" 

If I had stayed a moment more, I know not what words 
might have escaped me which I should have remembered 
with vain repentance and regret. I passed by her and opened 
the door for the second time. For the second time — with 
the frantic perversity of a roused woman — she caught me by 
the arm and barred my way out. 

"Let me go, Rachel," I said. "It will be better for both 
of us. Let me go." 

The hysterical passion swelled in her bosom — her quick- 
ened convulsive breathing almost beat on my face, as she held 
me back at the door. 

"Why did you come here?" she persisted, desperately. "I 
ask you again — why did you come here? Are you afraid I 
shall expose you? Now you are a rich man, no^y you have 
got a place in the world, now you may marry the best lady 
in the land — are you afraid I shall say the words which I 
have never said yet to any body but you? I can't say the 
words ! I can't expose you ! I am worse, if worse can be, 
than you are yourself." Sobs and tears burst from her. She 
struggled with them fiercely ; she held me more and more 
firmly. "I can't tear you out of my heart," she said, "even 
now ! You may trust in the shameful, shameful weakness 
which can only struggle against you in this way !" She sud- 
denly let go of me — she threw up her hands and wrung them 
frantically in the air. "Any other living woman would shrink 

388 



THE MOONSTONE 

from the disgrace of touching him !" she exclaimed. "Oh, 
God! I despise myself even more heartily than I despise him!" 

The tears were forcing their way into my eyes in spite of 
me — the horror of it was to be endured no longer. 

"You shall know that you have wronged me, yet," I said. 
"Or you shall never see me again!" 

With those words I left her. She started up from the chair 
on which she had dropped the moment before : she started 
up — the noble creature ! — and followed me across the outer 
room, with a last merciful word at parting. 

"Franklin !" she said, "I forgive you ! Oh, Franklin ! 
Franklin! we shall never meet again. Say you forgive me!" 

I turned, so as to let my face show her that I was past 
speaking — I turned, and waved my hand, and saw her dimly, 
as in a vision, through the tears that had conquered me at 
last. 

The next moment the worst bitterness of it was over. I 
was out in the garden again. I saw her and heard her no 
more. 



CHAPTER Vni. 

LVTE that evening I was surprised at my lodgings by a 
/ visit from Mr. Bruff. 

There was a noticeable change in the lawyer's manner. It 
had lost its usual confidence and spirit. He shook hands with 
me, for the first time in his life, in silence. 

"Are you going back to Hampstead?" I asked, by way of 
saying something. 

"I have just left Hampstead," he answered. "I know, 
Mr. Franklin, that you have got at the truth at last. But I 
tell you plainly, if I could have foreseen the price that was 
to be paid for it, I should have preferred leaving you in the 
dark." 

"You have seen Rachel?" 

"I have come here after taking her back to Portland Place ; 
it was impossible to let her return in the carriage by herself. 
I can hardly hold you responsible — considering that you saw 
her in my house and by my permission — for the shock that 

389 



THE MOONSTONE 

this unlucky interview has inflicted on her. All I can do 
is to provide against a repetition of the mischief. She is 
young — she has a resolute spirit — she will get over this, with 
time and rest to help her. I want to be assured that you 
will do nothing to hinder her recovery. May I depend on 
your making no second attempt to see her — except with my 
sanction and approval ?" 

"After what she has suffered, and after what I have suf- 
fered," I said, "you may rely on me." 

"I have your promise?" 

"You have my promise." 

Mr. Bruff looked relieved. He put down his hat and drew 
his chair nearer to mine. 

"That's settled !" he said. "Now about the future — your 
future, I mean. To my mind the result of the extraordinary 
turn which the matter has now taken is briefly this. In the 
first place, we are sure that Rachel has told you the whole 
truth, as plainly as words can tell it. In the second place — 
though we know that there must be some dreadful mistake 
somewhere — we can hardly blame her for believing you to 
be guilty, on the evidence of her own senses, backed, as that 
evidence has been, by circumstances which appear, on the face 
of them, to tell dead against you." 

There I interposed. "I don't blame Rachel," I said. "I 
only regret that she could not prevail on herself to speak 
more plainly to me at the time." 

"You might as well regret that Rachel is not somebody 
else," rejoined Mr. Bruff. "And even then I doubt if a girl 
of any delicacy, whose heart had been set on marrying you, 
could have brought herself to charge you to your face with 
being a thief. Anyhow, it was not in Rachel's nature to do 
it. In a very different matter to this matter of yours — which 
placed her, however, in a position not altogether unlike her 
position toward you — I happen to know that she was influ- 
enced by a similar motive to the motive which actuated her 
conduct in your case. Besides, as she told me herself, on our 
way to town this evening, if she had spoken plainly, she would 
no more have believed your denial then than she believes it 
now. What answer can you make to that? There is no 
answer to be made to it. Come ! come ! Mr. Franklin, my 

390 



THE MOONSTONE 

view of the case has been proved to be all wrong, I admit — 
but, as things are now, my advice may be worth having for 
all that. I tell you plainly, we shall be wasting our time and 
cudgeling our brains to no purpose if we attempt to try back 
and unravel this frightful complication from the beginning. 
Let us close our minds resolutely to all that happened last 
year at Lady Verinder's country house ; and let us look to 
what we can discover in the future, instead of to what we 
can not discover in the past." 

"Surely you forget," I said, "that the whole thing is essen- 
tially a matter of the past — so far as I am concerned?" 

"Answer me this," retorted Mr. Bruff. "Is the Moon- 
stone at the bottom of all the mischief — or is it not?" 

"It is — of course." 

"Very good. What do we believe was done with the 
Moonstone when it was taken to London?" 

"It was pledged to Mr. Luker." 

"We know that you are not the person who pledged it. 
Do we know who did ?" 

"No." 

"Where do we believe the Moonstone to be now ?" 

"Deposited in the keeping of Mr. Luker's bankers." 

"Exactly. Now observe. We are already in the month 
of June. Toward the end of the month, I can't be particular 
to a day, a year will have elapsed from the time when we 
believe the jewel to have been pledged. There is a chance — 
to say the least — that the person who pawned it may be pre- 
pared to redeem it when the year's time has expired. If he 
redeems it, Mr. Luker must himself — according to the terms 
of his own arrangement — take the Diamond out of his bank- 
ers' hands. Under these circumstances I propose setting a 
watch at the bank as the present month draws to an end, 
and discovering who the person is to whom Mr. Luker re- 
stores the Moonstone. Do you see it now ?" 

I admitted, a little unwillingly, that the idea was a new 
one, at any rate. 

"It's Mr, Murthwaite's idea quite as much as mine," said 
Mr. Brufif. "It might have never entered my head but for 
a conversation we had together some time since. If Mr. 
Murthwaite is right, the Indians are likely to be on the look- 

391 



THE MOONSTONE 

out at the bank, toward the end of the month too — and some- 
thing serious may come of it. What comes of it doesn't 
matter to you and me — except as it may help us to lay our 
hands on the mysterious Somebody who pawned the Dia- 
mond. That person, you may rely on it, is responsible, I don't 
pretend to know how, for the position in which you stand at 
this moment ; and that person alone can set you right in 
Rachel's estimation." 

'T can't deny," I said, "that the plan you propose meets 
the difficulty in a way that is very daring and very ingenious 
and very new. But — " 

"But you have an objection to make?" 

"Yes. My objection is that your proposal obliges us to 
wait." 

"Granted. As I reckon the time, it requires you to wait 
about a fortnight — more or less. Is that so very long?" 

"It's a lifetime, Mr. Bruff, in such a situation as mine. My 
existence will be simply unendurable to me, unless I do some- 
thing toward clearing my character at once." 

"Well, well, I understand that. Have you thought yet of 
what you can do?" 

"I have thought of consulting Sergeant Cuff." 

"He has retired from the police. It's useless to expect 
the Sergeant to help you." 

"I know where to find him ; and I can but try." 

"Try," said Mr. Bruff, after a moment's consideration. 
"The case has assumed such an extraordinary aspect since 
Sergeant Cuff's time that you may revive his interest in the 
inquiry. Try, and let me hear the result. In the mean 
while," he continued, rising, "if you make no discoveries be- 
tween this and the end of the month, am I free to try, on my 
side, what can be done by keeping a lookout at the bank?" 

"Certainly," I answered — "unless I relieve you of all 
necessity for trying the experiment in the interval." 

Mr. Bruff smiled, and took up his hat. 

"Tell Sergeant Cuff," he rejoined, "that 7 say the dis- 
covery of the truth depends on the discovery of the person 
who pawned the Diamond. And let me hear what the Ser- 
geant's experience says to that." 

So we parted for that night. 

392 



THE MOONSTONE 

Early the next morning I set forth for the Httle town of 
Dorking — the place of Sergeant Cuff's retirement, as indi- 
cated to me by Betteredge. 

Inquiring at the hotel, I received the necessary directions 
for finding the Sergeant's cottage. It was approached by 
a quiet by-road, a httle way out of the town, and it stood 
snugly in the middle of its own plot of garden ground, pro- 
tected by a good brick wall at the back and the sides, and 
by a high quickset hedge in front. The gate, ornamented 
at the upper part by smartly-painted trellis-work, was locked. 
After ringing at the bell, I peered through the trellis-work, 
and saw the great Cuff's favorite flower everywhere : bloom- 
ing in his garden, clustering over his door, looking in at his 
windows. Far from the crimes and the mysteries of the 
great city, the illustrious thief-taker was placidly living out 
the last Sybarite years of his life, smothered in roses ! 

A decent elderly woman opened the gate to me, and at 
once annihilated all the hopes I had built on securing the 
assistance of Sergeant Cuff. He had started, only the day 
before, on a journey to Ireland. 

"Has he gone there on business ?" I asked. 

The woman smiled. "He has only one business now, sir," 
she said, "and that's roses. Some great man's gardener in 
Ireland has found out something new in the growing of roses 
— and Mr. Cuff's away to inquire into it." 

"Do you know when he will be back?" 

"It's quite uncertain, sir. Mr. Cuff said he should come 
back directly, or be away some time, just according as he 
found the new discovery worth nothing, or worth looking 
into. If you have any message to leave for him, I'll take care, 
sir, that he gets it." 

I gave her my card, having first written on it in pencil : 
"I have something to say about the Moonstone. Let me 
hear from you as soon as you get back." That done, there 
was nothing left but to submit to circumstances, and return 
to London. 

In the irritable condition of my mind, at the time of which 
I am now writing, the abortive result of my journey to the 
Sergeant's cottage simply aggravated the restless impulse in 

393 



THE MOONSTONE 

me to be doing something. On the day of my return from 
Dorking, I determined that the next morning should find me 
bent on a new effort, forcing my way, through all obstacles, 
from darkness to the light. 

What form was my next experiment to take? 

If the excellent Betteredge had been present while I was 
considering that question, and if he had been let into the 
secret of my thoughts, he would, no doubt, have declared that 
the German side of me was, on this occasion, my uppermost 
side. To speak seriously, it is perhaps possible that my Ger- 
man training was in some degree responsible for the labyrinth 
of useless speculations in which I now involved myself. For 
the greater part of the night I sat smoking, and building 
up theories, one more profoundly improbable than another. 
When I did get to sleep my waking fancies pursued me in 
dreams. I rose the next morning, with objective-subjective 
and subjective-objective inextricably entangled together in 
my mind ; and I began the day which was to witness my next 
effort at practical action of some kind, by doubting whether 
I had any sort of right, on purely philosophical grounds, to 
consider any sort of thing, the Diamond included, as exist- 
ing at all. 

How long I might have remained lost in the mist of my 
own metaphysics, if I had been left to extricate myself, it is 
impossible for me to say. As the event proved, accident came 
to my rescue, and happily delivered me. I happened to wear, 
that morning, the same coat which I had worn on the day 
of my interview with Rachel. Searching for something else 
in one of the pockets, I came upon a crumpled piece of paper, 
and, taking it out, found Betteredge's forgotten letter in my 
hand. 

It seemed hard on my good old friend to leave him with- 
out a reply. I went to my writing-table, and read his letter 
again. 

A letter which has nothing of the slightest importance in 
it is not always an easy letter to answer. Betteredge's present 
effort at corresponding with me came within this category. 
Mr. Candy's assistant, otherwise Ezra Jennings, had told his 
master that he had seen me ; and Mr. Candy, in his turn, 
wanted to see me and say something to me, when I was next 

394 



THE MOONSTONE 

in the neighborhood of Frizinghall. What was to be said in 
answer to that, which would be worth the paper it was writ- 
ten on? I sat idly drawing likenesses from memory of Mr. 
Candy's remarkable-looking assistant, on the sheet of paper 
which I had vowed to dedicate to Betteredge — until it sud- 
denly occurred to me that here was the irrepressible Ezja 
Jennings getting in my way again ! I threw a dozen por- 
traits, at least, of the man with the piebald hair — the hair in 
every case remarkably like — into the waste-paper basket — 
and then and there wrote my answer to Betteredge. It was 
a perfect commonplace letter — but it had one excellent effect 
on me. The effort of writing a few sentences, in plain Eng- 
lish, completely cleared my mind of the cloudy nonsense 
which had filled it since the previous day. 

Devoting myself once more to the elucidation of the im- 
penetrable puzzle which my own position presented me, I 
now tried to meet the difficulty by investigating it from a 
plainly practical point of view. The events of the memorable 
night being still unintelligible to me, I looked a little farther 
back, and searched my memory of the earlier hours of the 
birthday for any incident which might prove of some assist- 
ance to me in finding the clue. 

Had any thing happened while Rachel and I were finishing 
the painted door ? or, later, when I rode over to Frizinghall ? 
or afterward, when I went back with Godfrey Ablewhite and 
his sisters? or, later again, when I put the Moonstone into 
Rachel's hands? or, later still, when the company came, and 
we all assembled round the dinner-table ? My memory dis- 
posed of that string of questions readily enough until I came 
to the last. Looking back at the social events of the birthday 
dinner, I found myself brought to a standstill at the outset 
of the inquiry. I was not even capable of accurately remem- 
bering the number of the guests who had sat at the same 
table with me. 

To feel myself completely at fault here, and to conclude, 
thereupon, that the incidents of the dinner might especially 
repay the trouble of investigating them, formed parts of the 
same mental process in my case. I believe other people, in 
a similar situation, would have reasoned as I did. When 
the pursuit of our own interests causes us to become objects 

305 



THE MOONSTONE 

of inquiry to ourselves, we are naturally suspicious of what 
we don't know. Once in possession of the names of the per- 
sons who had been present at the dinner, I resolved — as a 
means of enriching the deficient resources of my own memory 
— to appeal to the memories of the rest of the guests ; to write 
(]pwn all that they could recollect of the social events of the 
birthday ; and to test the result, thus obtained, by the light of 
what had happened afterward when the company had left 
the house. 

This last and newest of my many contemplated experi- 
ments in the art of inquiry — which Betteredge would prob- 
ably have attributed to the clear-headed, or French, side of 
me being uppermost for the moment — may fairly claim record 
here, on its own merits. Unlikely as it may seem, I had now 
actually groped my way to the root of the matter at last. 
All I wanted was a hint to guide me in the right direction 
at starting. Before another day had passed over my head 
that hint was given me by one of the company who had been 
present at the birthday feast. 

With the plan of proceeding which I now had in view, it 
was first necessary to possess the complete list of the guests. 
This I could easily obtain from Gabriel Betteredge. I deter- 
mined to go back to Yorkshire on that day, and to begin my 
contemplated investigation the next morning. 

It was just too late to start by the train which left London 
before noon. There was no alternative but to wait, nearly 
three hours, for the departure of the next train. Was there 
any thing I could do in London which might usefully occupy 
this interval of time? 

My thoughts went back again obstinately to the birthday 
dinner. 

Though I had forgotten the numbers, and, in many cases, 
the names of the guests, I remembered readily enough that 
by far the larger proportion of them came from Frizinghall, 
or from its neighborhood. But the larger proportion was 
not all. Some few of us were not regular residents in the 
county. I myself was one of the few. Mr. Murthwaite was 
another. Godfrey Ablewhite was a third. Mr. Bruff — no; 
I called to mind that business had prevented Mr. Bruff from 
making one of the party. Had any ladies been present whose 

396 



THE MOONSTONE 

usual residence was in London ? I could only remember Miss 
Clack as coming within this latter category. However, here 
were three of the guests, at any rate, whom it was clearly 
advisable for me to see before I left town. I drove off at 
once to Mr. BrulT's office ; not knowing the addresses of the 
persons of whom I was in search, and thinking it probabl.c 
that he might put me in the way of finding them. 

Mr. Brufif proved to be too busy to give me more than a 
minute of his valuable time. In that minute, however, he 
contrived to dispose — in the most discouraging manner — of 
all the questions I had put to him. 

In the first place, he considered my newly-discovered 
method of finding a clue to the mystery as something too 
purely fanciful to be seriously discussed. In the second, 
third, and fourth places, Mr. Murthwaite was now on his way 
back to the scene of his past adventures ; Miss Clack had suf- 
fered losses, and had settled, from motives of economy, in 
France ; Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite might or might not be dis- 
coverable somewhere in London. Suppose I inquired at his 
club? And suppose I excused Mr. Bruff if he went back 
to his business and wished me good-morning? 

The field of inquiry in London being now so narrowed as 
only to include the one necessity of discovering Godfrey's 
address, I took the lawyer's hint, and drove to his club. 

In the hall I met with one of the members, who was an 
old friend of my cousin's, and who was also an acquaintance 
of my own. This gentleman, after enlightening me on the 
subject of Godfrey's address, told me of two recent events 
in his life, which were of some importance in themselves, and 
which had not previously reached my ears. 

It appeared that Godfrey, far from being discouraged b}' 
Rachel's withdrawal from her engagement to him, had made 
matrimonial advances soon afterward to another young lady, 
reputed to be a great heiress. His suit had prospered, and 
his marriage had been considered as a settled and certain 
thing. But here, again, the engagement had been suddenly 
and unexpectedly broken ofif — owing, it was said, on this occa- 
sion, to a serious difference of opinion between the bride- 
groom and the lady's father on the question of settlements. 

As some compensation for this second matrimonial disas- 

397 



THE MOONSTONE 

ter, Godfrey had soon afterward found himself the object of 
fond pecuniary remembrance, on the part of one of his many 
admirers. A rich old lady — highly respected at the Mothers'- 
Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society, and a great friend of Miss 
Clack's, to whom she had left nothing but a mourning ring, 
had bequeathed to the admirable and meritorious Godfrey a 
legacy of five thousand pounds. After receiving this hand- 
some addition to his own modest pecuniary resources, he had 
been heard to say that he felt the necessity of getting a little 
respite from his charitable labors, and that his doctor pre- 
scribed "a run on the Continent, as likely to be productive 
of much future benefit to his health." If I wanted to see 
him, it would be advisable to lose no time in paying my con- 
templated visit. 

I went, then and there, to pay my visit. 

The same fatality which had made me just one day too 
late in calling on Sergeant Cuff made me again one day too 
late in calling on Godfrey. He had left London, on the pre- 
vious morning, by the tidal train for Dover. He was to cross 
to Ostend and his servant believed he was going on to Brus- 
sels. The time of his return was a little uncertain; but I 
might be sure that he would be away at least three months. 

I went back to my lodgings a little depressed in spirits. 
Three of the guests at the birthday dinner — and those three 
all exceptionally intelligent people — were out of my reach, 
at the very time when it was most important to be able to 
communicate with them. My last hopes now rested on Bet- 
teredge, and on the friends of the late Lady Verinder whom 
I might still find living in the neighborhood of Rachel's coun- 
try house. 

On this occasion I traveled straight to Frizinghall — the town 
being now the central point in my field of inquiry. I arrived 
too late in the evening to be able to communicate with Bet- 
teredge. The next morning I sent a messenger with a letter, 
requesting him to join me at the hotel at his earliest con- 
venience. 

Having taken the precaution — partly to save time, partly 
to accommodate Betteredge — of sending my messenger in a 
fly, I had a reasonable prospect, if no delays occurred, of 

398 



THE MOONSTONE 

seeing the old man within less than two hours from the time 
when I had sent for him. During this interval I arranged 
to employ myself in opening my contemplated inquiry among 
the guests present at the birthday dinner who were personally 
known to me, and who were easily within my reach. These 
were my relatives, the Ablewhites, and Mr. Candy. The doc- 
tor had expressed a special wish to see me, and the doctor 
lived in the next street. So to Mr. Candy I went first. 

After what Betteredge had told me, I naturally anticipated 
finding traces in the doctor's face of the severe illness from 
which he had suffered. But I was utterly unprepared for 
such a change as I saw in him when he entered the room and 
shook hands with me. His eyes were dim ; his hair had turned 
completely gray ; his face was wizen ; his figure had shrunk. 
I looked at the once lively, rattle-pated, humorous little doctor 
— associated in my remembrance with the perpetration of 
incorrigible social indiscretions and innumerable boyish jokes 
— and I saw nothing left of his former self but the old ten- 
dency to vulgar smartness in his dress. The man was a 
wreck; but his clothes and his jewelry — in cruel mockery of 
the change in him — were as gay and as gaudy as ever. 

"I have often thought of you, Mr. Blake," he said ; "and 
I am heartily glad to see you again at last. If there is any 
thing I can do for you, pray command my services, sir — pray 
command my services !" 

He said those few commonplace words with needless hurry 
and eagerness, and with a curiosity to know what had brought 
me to Yorkshire, which he was perfectly — I might say child- 
ishly — incapable of concealing from notice. 

With the object that I had in view, I had of course fore- 
seen the necessity of entering into some sort of personal ex- 
planation, before I could hope to interest people, mostly 
strangers to me, in doing their best to assist my inquiry. On 
the journey to Frizinghall I had arranged what my explana- 
tion was to be — and I seized the opportunity now offered to 
me of trying the effect of it on Mr. Candy. 

"I was in Yorkshire the other day, and I am in Yorkshire 
again now, on rather a romantic errand," I said. "It is a 
matter, Mr. Candy, in which the late Lady Verinder's friends 
all took some interest. You remember the mysterious loss of 

399 



THE MOONSTONE 

the Indian Diamond, now nearly a year since? Circum- 
stances have lately happened which lead to the hope that it 
may yet be found — and I am interesting myself, as one of the 
family, in recovering it. Among the obstacles in my way, 
there is the necessity of collecting again all the evidence 
which was discovered at the time, and more if possible. There 
are peculiarities in this case, which make it desirable to revive 
my recollection of every thing that happened in the house 
on the evening of Miss Verinder's birthday. And I venture 
to appeal to her late mother's friends who were present on 
that occasion to lend me the assistance of their memories — " 

I had got as far as that in rehearsing my explanatory 
phrases, when I was suddenly checked by seeing plainly in 
Mr. Candy's face that my experiment on him was a total 
failure. 

The little doctor sat restlessly picking at the points of his 
fingers all the time I was speaking. His dim, watery eyes 
were fixed on my face with an expression of vacant and wist- 
ful inquiry very painful to see. What he was thinking of it 
was impossible to divine. The one thing clearly visible was 
that I had failed, after the first two or three words, in fixing 
his attention. The only chance of recalling him to himself 
appeared to lie in changing the subject. I tried a new topic 
immediately. 

"So much," I said, gayly, "for what brings me to Frizing- 
hall ! Now, Mr. Candy, it's your turn. You sent me a mes- 
sage by Gabriel Betteredge — " 

He left off picking at his fingers, and suddenly bright- 
ened up. 

"Yes ! yes ! yes !" he exclaimed, eagerly. "That's it ! I 
sent you a message !" 

"And Betteredge duly communicated it by letter," I went 
on. "You had something to say to me the next time I was 
in your neighborhood. Well, Mr. Candy, here I am !" 

"Here you are !" echoed the doctor. "And Betteredge was 
quite right. I had something to say to you. That was my 
message. Betteredge is a wonderful man. What a memory! 
At his age, what a memory !" 

He dropped back into silence, and began picking at his 
fingers again. Recollecting what I had heard from Better- 

400 



. THE MOONSTONE 

edge about the effect of the fever on his memory, I went on 
with the conversation in the hope that I might help him at 
starting. 

"It's a long time since we met," I said. "We last saw 
each other at the last birthday dinner my poor aunt was ever 
to give." 

"That's it!" cried Mr. Candy. "The birthday dinner!" 
He started impulsively to his feet and looked at me. A deep 
flush suddenly overspread his faded face, and he abruptly sat 
down again, as if conscious of having betrayed a weakness 
which he would fain have concealed. It was plain, pitiably 
plain, that he was aware of his own defect of memory, and 
that he was bent on hiding it from the observation of his 
friends. 

Thus far he had appealed to my compassion only. But 
the words he had just said, few as they were, roused my 
curiosity instantly to the highest pitch. The birthday dinner 
had already become the one event in the past at which 1 
looked back with strangely-mixed feelings of hope and dis- 
trust. And here was the birthday dinner unmistakably pro- 
claiming itself as the subject on which' Mr. Candy had 
something important to say to me ! 

I attempted to help him out once more. But this time 
my own interests were at the bottom of my compassionate 
motive, and they hurried me on a little too abruptly to the 
end that I had in view. 

"It's nearly a year now," I said, "since we sat at that 
pleasant table. Have you made any memorandum — in your 
diary, or otherwise — of what you wanted to say to me?" 

Mr. Candy understood the suggestion, and showed me 
that he understood it, as an insult. 

"I require no memorandums, Mr. Blake," he said, stiffly 
enough. "I am not such a very old man yet — and my mem- 
ory, thank God, is to be thoroughly depended on !" 

It is needless to say that I declined to understand that he 
was offended with me. 

"I wish I could say the same of my memory," I answered. 
"When / try to think of matters that are a year old, I seldom 
find my remembrance as vivid as I could wish it to be. Take 
the dinner at Lady Verinder's, for instance — " 
26 401 



THE MOONSTONE 

Mr. Candy brightened up again, the moment the allusion 
passed my lips. 

"Ah ! the dinner, the dinner at Lady Verinder's !" he ex- 
claimed, more eagerly than ever. 'T have got something to 
say to you about that." 

His eyes looked at me again with the painful expression 
of inquiry, so wistful, so vacant, so miserably helpless to see. 
He was evidently trying hard, and trying in vain, to recover 
the lost recollection. 'Tt was a very pleasant dinner," he 
burst out suddenly, with an air of saying exactly what he 
had wanted to say. "A very pleasant dinner, Mr. Blake, 
wasn't it?" He nodded and smiled, and appeared to think, 
poor fellow, that he had succeeded in concealing the total 
failure of his memory by a well-timed exertion of his own 
presence of mind. 

It was so distressing that I at once shifted the talk — deeply 
as I was interested in his recovering the lost remembrance — 
to topics of local interest. 

Here he got on glibly enough. Trumpery little scandals 
and quarrels in the town, some of them as much as a month 
old, appeared to recur to his memory readily. He chattered 
on, with something of the smooth gossiping fluency of former 
times. But there were moments, even in the full flow of his 
talkativ.eness, when he suddenly hesitated — looked at me for 
a moment with the vacant inquiry once more in his eyes — 
controlled himself — and went on again. I submitted patiently 
to my martyrdom — it is surely nothing less than martyrdom, 
to a man of cosmopolitan sympathies, to absorb in silent res- 
ignation the news of a country town — until the clock on the 
chimney-piece told me that my visit had been prolonged be- 
yond half an hour. Having now some right to consider the 
sacrifice as complete, I rose to take leave. As we shook hands, 
Mr. Candy reverted to the birthday festival of his own 
accord. 

"I am so glad we have met again," he said. "I had it on 
my mind — I really had it on my mind, Mr. Blake, to speak 
to you. About the dinner at Lady Verinder's, you know? 
A pleasant dinner — really a pleasant dinner now, wasn't it?" 

On repeating the phrase he seemed to feel hardly as cer- 
tain of having prevented me from suspecting his lapse of 

402 



THE MOONSTONE 

memory as he had felt on the first occasion. The wistful 
look clouded his face again ; and, after apparently designing 
to accompany me to the street door, he suddenly changed his 
mind, rang the bell for the servant, and remained in the 
drawing-room. 

I went slowly down the doctor's stairs, feeling the dis- 
heartening conviction that he really had something to say 
which it was vitally important to me to hear, and that he 
was morally incapable of saying it. The effort of remember- 
ing that he wanted to speak to me was but too evidently 
the only effort that his enfeebled memory was now able to 
achieve. 

Just as I had reached the bottom of the stairs, and had 
turned a corner on my way to the outer hall, a door opened 
softly somewhere on the ground-floor of the house, and a 
gentle voice said behind me : 

"I am afraid, sir, you find Mr. Candy sadly changed?" 

I turned round, and found myself face to face with Ezra 
Jennings. 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE doctor's pretty house-maid stood waiting for me, 
with the street door open in her hand. Pouring brightly 
into the hall, the morning light fell full on the face of Mr. 
Candy's assistant when I turned and looked at him. 

It was impossible to dispute Betteredge's assertion that 
the appearance of Ezra Jennings, speaking from the popular 
point of view, was against him. His gypsy complexion, his 
fleshless cheeks, his gaunt facial bones, his dreamy eyes, his 
extraordinary party-colored hair, the puzzling contradiction 
between his face and figure, which made him look old and 
young both together — were all more or less calculated to pro- 
duce an unfavorable impression of him on a stranger's mind. 
And yet — feeling this as I certainly did — it is not to be denied 
that Ezra Jennings made some inscrutable appeal to my 
sympathies, which I found it impossible to resist. While my 
knowledge of the world warned me to answer the question 
which he had put, by acknowledging that I did indeed find 

403 



THE MOONSTONE 

Mr. Candy sadly changed, and then to proceed on my way 
out of the house — my interest in Ezra Jennings held me rooted 
to the place, and gave him the opportunity of speaking to me 
in private about his employer, for which he had been evi- 
dently on the watch. 

"Are you walking my way, Mr. Jennings?" I said, ob- 
serving that he held his hat in his hand. "I am going to call 
on my aunt, Mrs. Ablewhite." 

Ezra Jennings replied that he had a patient to see, and 
that he was walking my way. 

We left the house together. I observed that the pretty 
servant-girl — who was all smiles and amiability when I 
wished her good-morning on my way out — received a modest 
little message from Ezra Jennings, relating to the time at 
which he might be expected to return, with pursed-up lips 
and with eyes which ostentatiously looked anywhere rather 
than look in his face. The poor wretch was evidently no 
favorite in the house. Out of the house, I had Betteredge's 
word for it that he was unpopular everywhere. "What a 
life !" I thought to myself as we descended the doctor's door- 
steps. 

Having already referred to Mr. Candy's illness on his side, 
Ezra Jennings now appeared determined to leave it to me 
to resume the subject. His silence said, significantly, "It's 
your turn now." I, too, had my reasons for referring to the 
doctor's illness and I readily accepted the responsibility of 
speaking first. 

"Judging by the change I see in him," I began, "Mr. 
Candy's illness must have been far more serious than I had 
supposed ?" 

"It is almost a miracle," said Ezra Jennings, "that he lived 
through it." 

"Is his memory never any better than I have found it to- 
day? He has been trying to speak to me — " 

"Of something which happened before he was taken ill ?" 
asked the assistant, observing that I hesitated. 

"Yes." 

"His memory of events at that past time is hopelessly en- 
feebled," said Ezra Jennings. "It is almost to be deplored, 
poor fellow, that even the wreck of it remains. While he 

404 



THE MOONSTONE 

remembers dimly plans that he formed — things, here and 
there, that he had to say or do before his ilhiess — he is per- 
fectly incapable of recalling what the plans were, or what 
the thing was that he had to say or do. He is painfully con- 
scious of his own deficiency, and painfully anxious, as you 
must have seen, to hide it from observation. If he could only 
have recovered in a complete state of oblivion as to the past, 
he would have been a happier man. Perhaps we should all 
be happier," he added, with a sad smile, "if we could but 
completely forget !" 

"There are some events surely in all men's lives," I replied, 
"the memory of which they would be unwilling entirely to 
lose?" 

"That is, I hope, to be said of most men, Mr. Blake. I am 
afraid it can not truly be said of all. Have you any reason 
to suppose that the lost remembrance which Mr. Candy tried 
to recover — while you were speaking to him just now — was 
a remembrance which it was important to yoti that he should 
recall ?" 

In saying those words he had touched, of his own accord, 
on the very point upon which I was anxious to consult him. 
The interest I felt in this strange man had impelled me, in 
the first instance, to give him the opportunity of speaking to 
me, reserving what I might have to say on my side in rela- 
tion to his employer until I was first satisfied that he was 
a person in whose delicacy and discretion I could trust. The 
little that he had said thus far had been sufficient to con- 
vince me that I was speaking to a gentleman. He had what 
I may venture to describe as the unsought self-possession 
which is a sure sign of good-breeding, not in England only, 
but everywhere else in the civilized world. Whatever the 
object which he had in view in putting the question that he 
had just addressed to me, I felt no doubt that I was justified 
— so far — in answering him without reserve. 

"I believe I have a strong interest," I said, "in tracing the 
lost remembrance which Mr. Candy was unable to recall. 
May I ask whether you can suggest to me any method by 
which I might assist his memory ?" 

Ezra Jennings looked at me, with a sudden flash of interest 
in his dreamy brown eyes. 

405 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Mr. Candy's memory is beyond the reach of assistance," 
he said. *T have tried to help it often enough since his re- 
covery to be able to speak positively on that point." 

This disappointed me ; and I owned it. 

"I confess you led me to hope for a less discouraging an- 
swer than that/' I said. 

Ezra Jennings smiled. "It may not perhaps be a final 
answer, Mr. Blake. It may be possible to trace Mr. Candy's 
lost recollection without the necessity of appealing to Mr. 
Candy himself." 

"Indeed? Is it an indiscretion on my part to ask — how?" 

"By no means. My only difficulty in answering your 
question is the difficulty of explaining myself. May I trust 
to your patience if I refer once more to Mr. Candy's illness : 
and if I speak of it this time without sparing you certain < 
professional details ?" 

"Pray go on ! You have interested me already in hear- 
ing the details." 

My eagerness seemed to amuse — perhaps I might rather 
say, to please him. He smiled again. We had by this time 
left the last houses in the town behind us. Ezra Jennings 
stopped for a moment and picked some wild flowers from 
the hedge by the road-side. "How beautiful they are !" he 
said, simply, showing his little nosegay to me. "And how 
few people in England seem to admire them as they de- 
serve !" 

"You have not always been in England?" I said. 

"No. I was born and partly brought up in one of our 
colonies. My father was an Englishman, but my mother — 
We are straying away from our subject, Mr. Blake; and 
it is my fault. The truth is, I have associations wdth 
these modest little hedge-side flowers — It doesn't mat- 
ter ; we were speaking of Mr. Candy. To Mr. Candy let us 
return." 

Connecting the few words about himself which thus re- 
luctantly escaped him with the melancholy view of life 
which led him to place the conditions of human happiness in 
complete oblivion of the past, I felt satisfied that the story 
which I had read in his face was, in two particulars at least, 
the story that it really told. He had suffered as few men 

406 



THE MOONSTONE 

suffer ; and there was the mixture of some foreign race in his 
English blood. 

"You have heard, I dare say, of the original cause of Mr. 
Candy's illness?" he resumed. "The night of Lady Verin- 
der's dinner-party was a night of heavy rain. My employer 
drove home through it in his gig and reached the house 
wetted to the skin. He found an urgent message from a pa- 
tient waiting for him, and he most unfortunately went at 
once to visit the sick person without stopping to change his 
clothes. I was myself professionally detained that night by 
a case at some distance from Frizinghall. When I got back 
the next morning I found Mr. Candy's groom waiting in 
great alarm to take me to his master's room. By that time 
the mischief was done ; the illness had set in." 

"The illness has only been described to me, in general 
terms, as a fever," I said. 

"I can add nothing which will make the description more 
accurate," answered Ezra Jennings. "From first to last the 
fever assumed no specific form. I sent at once to two of 
Mr. Candy's medical friends in the town, both physicians, to 
come and give me their opinion of the case. They agreed 
with me that it looked serious ; but they both strongly dis- 
sented from the view I took of the treatment. We differed 
entirely in the conclusions which we drew from the patient's 
pulse. The two doctors, arguing from the rapidity of the 
beat, declared that a lowering treatment was the only treat- 
ment to be adopted. On my side, I admitted the rapidity 
of the pulse ; but I also pointed to its alarming feebleness as 
indicating an exhausted condition of the system, and as show- 
ing a plain necessity for the administration of stimulants. 
The two doctors were for keeping him on gruel, lemonade, 
barley-water, and so on. I was for giving him champagne 
or brandy, ammonia, and quinine. A serious difference of 
opinion, as you see ! a difference between two physicians of 
established local repute and a stranger who was only an as- 
sistant in the house. For the first few days I had no choice 
but to give way to my elders and betters ; the patient stead- 
ily sinking all the time. I made a second attempt to appeal 
to the plain, undeniably plain, evidence of the pulse. Its ra- 
pidity was unchecked and its feebleness had increased. The 

407 



THE MOONSTONE 

two doctors took offense at my obstinacy. They said, * Mr. 
Jennings, either we manage this case, or you manage it. 
Which is it to be?' I said, 'Gentlemen, give me five min- 
utes to consider, and that plain question shall have a plain 
reply.' When the time had expired I was ready with my 
answer. I said, 'You positively refuse to try the stimulant 
treatment?' They refused in so many words. 'I mean to 
try it at once, gentlemen.' — Try it, Mr. Jennings, and we 
withdraw from the case.' I sent down to the cellar for a 
bottle of champagne ; and I administered half a tumblerful 
of it to the patient with my own hand. The two physicians 
took up their hats in silence, and left the house." 

"You had assumed a serious responsibility," I said. "In 
your place, I am afraid I should have shrunk from it." 

"In my place, Mr. Blake, you would have remembered 
that Mr. Candy had taken you into his employment, under 
circumstances which made you his debtor for life. In my 
place, you would have seen him sinking hour by hour ; and 
you would have risked any thing rather than let the one 
man on earth who had befriended you die before your eyes. 
Don't suppose that I had no sense of the terrible position in 
which I had placed myself! There were moments when I 
felt all the misery of my friendlessness, all the peril of my 
dreadful responsibility. If I had been a happy man, if I had 
led a prosperous life, I believe I should have sunk under the 
task I had imposed on myself. But / had no happy time to 
look back at, no past peace of mind to force itself into con- 
trast with my present anxiety and suspense — and I held firm 
to my resolution through it all. I took an interval in the 
middle of the day, when my patient's condition was at its 
best, for the repose I needed. For the rest of the four-and- 
twenty hours, as long as his life was in danger, I never left 
his bedside. Toward sunset, as usual in such cases, the de- 
lirium incidental to the fever came on. It lasted more or 
less through the night, and then intermitted at that terrible 
time in the early morning — from two o'clock to five — when 
the vital energies even of the healthiest of us are at their 
lowest. It is then that Death gathers in his human harvest 
most abundantly. It was then that Death and I fought our 
fight over the bed which should have the man who la}' on 

408 



THE MOONSTONE 

it. I never hesitated in pursuing the treatment on which I 
had staked every thing. When wine failed, I tried brandy. 
When the other stimulants lost their influence, I doubled 
the dose. After an interval of suspense — the like of which 
I hope to God I shall never feel again — there came a day 
when the rapidity of the pulse slightly, but appreciably, di- 
minished ; and, better still, there came also a change in the 
beat — an unmistakable change to steadiness and strength. 
Then I knew that I had saved him ; and then I own I broke 
down. I laid the poor fellow's wasted hand back on the 
bed, and burst out crying. An hysterical relief, Mr. Blake 
— nothing more ! Physiology says, and says truly, that 
some men are born with female constitutions — and I am one 
of them !" 

He made that bitterly professional apology for his tears, 
speaking quietly and unaffectedly, as he had spoken through- 
out. His tone and manner, from beginning to end, showed *'^ 
him to be especially, almost morbidly anxious not to set 
himself up as an object of interest to me. 

"You may well ask why I have wearied you with all these 
details ?" he went on. "It is the only way I can see, Mr. 
Blake, of properly introducing to you what I have to say 
next. . Now you know exactly what my position was at the 
time of Mr. Candy's illness, you will the more readily under- 
stand the sore need I had of lightening the burden on my 
mind by giving it, at intervals, some sort of relief. I have 
had the presumption to occupy my leisure, for some years 
past, in writing a book, addressed to the members of my 
profession — a book on the intricate and delicate subject of 
the brain and the nervous system. My work will probably 
never be finished ; and it will certainly never be published. 
It has none the less been the friend of many lonely hours 
and it helped me to while away the anxious time — the time 
of waiting, and nothing else — at Mr. Candy's bedside. I 
told you he was delirious, I think ? And I mentioned the 
time at which his delirium came on?" 

"Yes." 

" Well, I had reached a section of my book at that time 
which touched on the same question of delirium. I won't 
trouble you at any length with my theory on the subject — 

409 



THE MOONSTONE 

I will confine myself to telling you only what it is your pres- 
ent interest to know. It has often occurred to me in the 
course of my medical practice to doubt whether we can justi- 
fiably infer — in cases of delirium — that the loss of the faculty 
of speaking connectedly implies of necessity the loss of the 
faculty of thinking connectedly as well. Poor Mr. Candy's 
illness gave me an opportunity of putting this doubt to the 
test. I understand the art of writing in short-hand ; and I 
was able to take down the patient's 'wanderings' exactly as 
they fell from his lips. Do you see, Mr. Blake, what I am 
coming to at last ?" 

I saw it clearly, and waited with breathless interest to 
hear more. 

"At odds and ends of time," Ezra Jennings went on, "I 
reproduced my short-hand notes, in the ordinary form of 
writing — leaving large spaces between the broken phrases, 
% and even the single words, as they had fallen disconnectedl}^ 
from Mr. Candy's lips. I then treated the result thus ob- 
tained on something like the principle which one adopts in 
putting together a child's 'puzzle.' It is all confusion to be- 
gin with ; but it may be all brought into order and shape, 
if you can only find the right way. Acting on this plan, I 
filled in the blank spaces on the paper with what the words 
or phrases on either side of it suggested to me as the speak- 
er's meaning; altering over and over again, until my addi- 
tions followed naturally on the spoken words which came 
before them and fitted naturally into the spoken words 
which came after them. The result was that I not only oc- 
cupied in this way many vacant and anxious hours, but that 
I arrived at something which was, as it seemed to me, a 
confirmation of the theory that I held. In plainer words, 
after putting the broken sentences together, I found the su- 
perior faculty of thinking going on, more or less connectedly, 
in my patient's mind, while the inferior faculty of expression 
was in a state of almost complete incapacity and confusion." 

"One word !" I interposed, eagerly. "Did my name oc- 
cur in any of his wanderings?" 

"You shall hear, Mr. Blake. Among my written proofs 
of the assertion which I have just advanced — or, I ought to 
say, among the written experiments, tending to put my as- 

410 



THE MOONSTONE 

sertion to the proof — there is one, in which your name oc- 
curs. For nearly the whole of one night Mr, Candy's mind 
was occupied with something between himself and you, I 
have got the broken words, as they dropped from his lips, 
on one sheet of paper. And I have got the links of my own 
discovering, which connect those words together, on another; 
sheet of paper. The product, as the arithmeticians would 
say, is an intelligible statement — first, of something actually 
done in the past ; secondly, of something which Mr. Candy 
contemplated doing in the future, if his illness had not got 
in the way and stopped him. The question is whether this 
does, or does not, represent the lost recollection which he 
vainly attempted to find when you called on him this morn- 
ing?" 

"Not a doubt of it !" I answered. "Let us go back di- 
rectly, and look at the papers." 

"Quite impossible, Mr. Blake." 

"Why ?" 

"Put yourself in my position for a moment," said Ezra 
Jennings. "Would you disclose to another person what had 
dropped unconsciously from the lips of your sufifering patient 
and your helpless friend, without first knowing that there 
was a necessity to justify you in opening your lips?" 

I felt that he was unanswerable here ; but I tried to argue 
the question, nevertheless. 

"My conduct in such a delicate matter as you describe," 
I replied, "would depend greatly on whether the disclosure 
was of a nature to compromise my friend or not." 

"I have disposed of all necessity for considering that side 
of the question long since," said Ezra Jennings. " Wherever 
my notes included any thing which Mr. Candy might have 
wished to keep secret, those notes have been destroyed. My 
manuscript experiments at my friend's bedside include noth- 
ing now which he would have hesitated to communicate to 
others, if he had recovered the use of his memory. In your 
case I have even reason to suppose that my notes contain 
something which he actually wished to say to you — " 

"And yet, you hesitate ?" 

"And yet, I hesitate. Remember the circumstances under 
which I obtained the information which I possess ! Harmless 

411 



THE MOONSTONE 

as it is, I can not prevail upon myself to give it up to you, 
unless you first satisfy me that there is a reason for doing 
so. He was so miserably ill, Mr. Blake ! and he was so help- 
lessly dependent upon me ! Is it too much to ask, if I re- 
quest you only to hint to me what your interest is in the lost 
recollection — or what you believe that lost recollection to 
be?" 

To have answered him with the frankness which his lan- 
guage and his manner both claimed from me, would have 
been to commit myself to openly acknowledging that I was 
suspected of the theft of the Diamond. Strongly as Ezra 
Jennings had intensified the first impulsive interest which I 
had felt in him, he had not overcome my unconquerable re- 
luctance to disclose the degrading position in which I stood. 
I took refuge once more in the explanatory phrases with 
which I had prepared myself to meet the curiosity of stran- 
gers. 

This time I had no reason to complain of a want of atten- 
tion on the part of the person to whom I addressed myself. 
Ezra Jennings listened patiently, even anxiously, until I had 
done. 

'T am sorry to have raised your expectations, Mr. Blake, 
only to disappoint them," he said. "Throughout the whole 
period of Mr. Candy's illness, from first to last, not one word 
about the Diamond escaped his lips. The matter with which 
I heard him connect your name has, I can assure you, no dis- 
coverable relation whatever with the loss or the recovery of 
Miss Verinder's jewel." 

We arrived, as he said those words, at a place where the 
highway along which we had been walking branched off into 
two roads. One led to Mr. Ablewhite's house, and the other 
to a moor-land village some two or three miles off. Ezra 
Jennings stopped at the road which led to the village. 

"My way lies in this direction," he said. 'T am really 
and truly sorry, Mr. Blake, that I can be of no use to you." 

His voice told me that he spoke sincerely. His soft brown 
eyes rested on me for a moment with a look of melancholy , 
interest. He bowed and went, without another word, on his 
way to the village. 

For a minute or more I stood and watched him, walking 

412 



THE MOONSTONE 

farther and farther away from me ; carrying farther and far- 
ther away with him what I now firmly believed to be the 
clue of which I was in search. He turned, after walking on 
a little way, and looked back. Seeing me still standing at 
the place where we had parted, he stopped, as if doubting 
whether I might not wish to speak to him again. There was 
no time for me to reason out my own situation — to remind 
myself that I was losing my opportunity, at what might be 
the turning-point of my life, and all to flatter nothing more 
important than my own self-esteem ! There was only time 
to call him back first and to think afterward. I suspect I 
am one of the rashest of existing men. I called him back — 
and then I said to myself, "Now there is no help for it. I 
must tell him the truth !" 

He retraced his steps directly. I advanced along the road 
to meet him. 

"Mr. Jennings," I said, "I have not treated you quite 
fairly. My interest in tracing Mr. Candy's lost recollection 
is not the interest of recovering the Moonstone. A serious 
personal matter is at the bottom of my visit to Yorkshire. 
I have but one excuse for not having dealt frankly with you 
in this matter. It is more painful to me than I can say, to 
mention to any body what my position really is." 

Ezra Jennings looked at me with the first appearance of 
embarrassment which I had seen in him yet. 

"I have no right, Mr. Blake, and no wish," he said, "to in- 
trude myself into your private affairs. Allow me to ask 
your pardon, on my side, for having, most innocently, put 
you to a painful test." 

"You have a perfect right," I rejoined, "to fix the terms 
on which you feel justified in revealing what you heard at 
Mr. Candy's bedside. I understand and respect the delicacy 
which influences you in this matter. How can I expect to 
be taken into your confidence if I decline to admit you into 
mine? You ought to know and you shall know why I am 
interested in discovering what Mr. Candy wanted to say to 
me. If I turn out to be mistaken in my anticipations, and 
if you prove unable to help me when you are really aware 
of what I want, I shall trust to your honor to keep my secret 
— and something tells me that I shall not trust in vain." 

413 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Stop, Mr. Blake. I have a word to say, which must be 
said before you go any further." 

I looked at him in astonishment. The grip of some terri- 
ble emotion seemed to have seized him, and shaken him to 
the soul. His gypsy complexion had altered to a livid gray- 
ish paleness ; his eyes had suddenly become wild and glitter- 
ing; his voice had dropped to a tone — low, stern, and reso- 
lute — which I now heard for the first time. The latent 
resources in the man for good or for evil — it was hard at that 
moment to say which — leaped up in him and showed them- 
selves to me with the suddenness of a flash of light. 

"Before you place any confidence in me," he wen-t on, 
"you ought to know, and you must know, under what cir- 
cumstances I have been received into Mr. Candy's house. It 
won't take long. I don't profess, sir, to tell my story, as 
the phrase is, to any man. My story will die with me. All 
I ask is to be permitted to tell you what I have told ]\Ir. 
Candy. If you are still in the mind, when you have heard 
that, to say what you have proposed to say, you will com- 
mand my attention and command my services. Shall we 
walk on ?" 

The suppressed misery in his face silenced me. I answered 
his question by a sign. We walked on. 

After advancing a* few hundred yards, Ezra Jennings 
stopped at a gap in the rough stone wall which shut off the 
moor from the road at this part of it. 

"Do you mind resting a little, Mr. Blake?" he asked. "I 
am not what I was — and some things shake me." 

I agreed of course. He led the way through the gap to a 
patch of turf on the heathy ground, screened by bushes and 
dwarf trees on the side nearest to the road and command- 
ing in the opposite direction a grandly desolate view over 
the broad brown wilderness of the moor. The clouds had 
gathered within the last half hour. The light was dull; the 
distance was dim. The lovely face of Nature met us, soft 
and still and colorless — met us without a smile. 

We sat down in silence. Ezra Jennings laid aside his hat, 
and passed his hand wearily over his forehead, wearily 
through his startling white and black hair. He tossed his 
little nosegay of wild flowers away from him, as if the re- 

414 



THE MOONSTONE 

membrances which it recalled were remembrances which hurt 
him now. 

"Mr. Blake !" he said, suddenly, "you are in bad company. 
The cloud of a horrible accusation has rested on me for years. 
I tell you the worst at once. I am a man whose life is a 
wreck and whose character is gone." 

I attempted to speak. He stopped me. 

"No," he said. "Pardon me ; not yet. Don't commit your- 
self to expressions of sympathy which you m^y afterward 
wish to recall. I have mentioned an accusation which has 
rested on me for years. There are circumstances in con- 
nection with it that tell against me. I can not bring myself 
to acknowledge what the accusation is. And I am inca- 
pable, perfectly incapable, of proving my innocence. I can 
only assert my innocence. I assert it, sir, on my oath as a 
Christian. It is useless to appeal to my honor as a man." 

He paused again. I looked round at him. He never looked 
at me in return. His whole being seemed to be absorbed in 
the agony of recollecting and in the effort to speak. 

"There is much that I might say," he went on, "about 
the merciless treatment of me by my own family and the 
merciless enmity to which I have fallen a victim. But the 
harm is done ; the wrong is beyond all remedy now. I de- 
cline to weary or distress you, sir, if I can help it. At the 
outset of my career in this country, the vile slander to which 
I have referred struck me down at once and forever. I re- 
signed my aspirations in my profession — obscurity was the 
only hope left for me. I parted with the woman I loved — 
how could I condemn her to share my disgrace? A medical 
assistant's place offered itself, in a remote corner of England. 
I got the place. It promised me peace ; it promised me ob- 
scurity, as I thought. I was wrong. Evil report, with time 
and chance to help it, travels patiently, and travels far. The 
accusation from which I had fled followed me. I got warn- 
ing of its approach. I was able to leave my situation vol- 
untarily, with the testimonials that I had earned. They got 
me another situation, in another remote district. Time passed 
again ; and again the slander that was death to my char- 
acter found me out. On this occasion I had no warning. 
My employer said, ' ]\Ir. Jennings, I have no complaint to 

415 



THE MOONSTONE 

make against you; but you must set yourself right, or leave 
me.' I had but one choice — I left him. It's useless to dwell 
on what ;^- suffered after that. I am only forty years old 
now. Look at my face, and let it tell for me the story of 
some miserable years. It ended in my drifting to this place, 
and meeting with Mr. Candy. He wanted an assistant. I 
referred him, on the question of capacity, to my last employer. 
The question of character remained. I told him what I 
have told you — and more. I warned him that there were 
difficulties in the way, even if he believed me. ' Here, as 
elsewhere,' I said, T scorn the guilty evasion of living under 
an assumed name ; I am no safer at Frizinghall than at other 
places from the cloud that follows me, go where I may.' 
He answered, T don't do things by halves — I believe you, 
and I pity you. If you will risk what may happen, / will 
risk it too.' God Almighty bless him ! He has given me 
shelter, he has given me employment, he has given me rest 
of mind — and I have the certain conviction, I have had it 
for some months past, that nothing will happen now to make 
him regret it." 

"The slander has died out?" I said. 

"The slander is as active as ever. But when it follows 
me here it will come too late." 

"You will have left the place?" 

"No, Mr. Blake — I shall be dead. For ten years past I 
have suffered froin an incurable internal complaint. I don't 
disguise from you that I should have let the agony of it kill 
me long since but for one last interest in life, which makes 
my existence of some importance to me still. I want to pro- 
vide for a person — very dear to me — whom I shall never see 
again. My own little patrimony is hardly sufficient to make 
her independent of the world. The hope, if I could only live 
long enough, of increasing it to a certain sum, has impelled 
me to resist the disease by such palliative means as I could 
devise. The one effectual palliative in my case is — opium. 
To that all-potent and all-merciful drug I am indebted for a 
respite of many years from my sentence of death. But even 
the virtues of opium have their limit. The progress of the 
disease has gradually forced me from the use of opium to the 
abuse of it. I am feeling the penalty at last. My nervous 

4.16 



THE MOONSTONE 

system is shattered; my nights are nights of horror. The 
end is not far off now. Let it come — I have not Hved and 
worked in vain. The Httle sum is nearly made 4Jp ; and I 
have the means of completing it, if my last reserA^s of life 
fail me sooner than I expect. I hardly know how I have 
wandered into telling you this. I don't think I am mean 
enough to appeal to your pity. Perhaps, I fancy you may 
be all the readier to believe me, if you know that what I 
have said to you I have said with the certain knowledge in 
me that I am a dying man. There is no disguising, Mr. 
Blake, that you interest me. I have attempted to make my 
poor friend's loss of memory the means of bettering my ac- 
quaintance with you. I have speculated on the chance of 
your feeling a passing curiosity about what he wanted to 
say and of my he'ing able to satisfy it. Is there no excuse 
for my intruding myself on you? Perhaps there is some ex- 
cuse. A man who has lived as I have lived has his bitter 
moments when he ponders over human destiny. You have 
youth, health, riches, a place in the world, a prospect before 
you — you, and such as you, show me the sunny side of hu- 
man life, and reconcile me with the world that I am leaving, 
before I go. However this talk between us may end, I shall 
not forget that you have done me a kindness in doing that. 
It rests with you, sir, to say what you proposed saying, or to 
wish me good-morning." 

I had but one answer to make to that appeal. Without a 
moment's hesitation I told him the truth as unreservedly as 
I have told it in these pages. 

He started to his feet, and looked at me with breathless 
eagerness as I approached the leading incident of my story. 

" It is certain that I went into the room," I said ; " it is 
certain that I took the Diamond. I can only meet those two 
plain facts by declaring that, do what I might, I did it with- 
out my own knowledge. You may believe that I have spoken 
the truth—" 

Ezra Jennings caught me excitedly by the arm. 

"Stop !" he said. "You have suggested more to me than 
you suppose. Have you ever been accustomed to the use 
of opium?" 

"I never tasted it in my life." 

27 417 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Were your nerves out of order at this time last year? 
Were you unusually restless and irritable?" 

"Yes." 

"Did you sleep badly?" 

"Wretchedly. Many nights I never slept at all." 

"Was the birthday night an exception? Try and remem- 
ber. Did you sleep well on that one occasion?" 

'T do remember ! I slept soundly." 

He dropped my arm as suddenly as he had taken it — and 
looked at me with the air of a man whose mind was relieved 
of the last doubt that rested on it. 

"This is a marked day in your life and in mine," he 
said, gravely. "I am absolutely certain, Mr. Blake, of 
one thing — I have got what Mr. Candy wanted to say to 
you, this morning, in the notes that I took at my patient's 
bedside. Wait ! that is not all. I am firmly persuaded 
that I can prove you to have been unconscious of what 
you were about when you entered the room and took 
the Diamond. Give me time to think, and time to ques- 
tion you. I believe the vindication of your innocence is in 
my hands !" 

"Explain yourself, for God's sake! What do you mean?" 

In the excitement of our colloquy we had walked on a 
few steps beyond the clump of dwarf trees which had 
hitherto screened us from view. Before Ezra Jennings 
could answer me he was hailed from the high-road by a man, 
in great agitation, who had been evidently on the lookout 
for him. 

"I am coming," he called back ; "I am coming as fast as 
I can !" He turned to me. "There is an urgent case wait- 
ing for me at the village yonder ; I ought to have been there 
half an hour since — I must attend to it at once. Give me 
two hours from this time, and call at Mr. Candy's again — 
and I will engage to be ready for you." 

"How am I to wait !" I exclaimed, impatiently. "Can't 
you quiet my mind by a word of explanation before we 
part?" 

"This is far too serious a matter to be explained in a hurry, 
Mr. Blake. I am not willfully trying your patience — I should 
only be adding to your suspense if I attempted to relieve 

418 



THE MOONSTONE 

it as things are now. At Frizinghall, sir, in two hours' time !" 
The man on the high-road hailed him again. He hurried 
away and left me. 



CHAPTER X. 

HOW the interval of suspense to which I was now con- 
demned might have affected other men in my position, 'I 
can not pretend to say. The influence of the two hours' proba- 
tion upon my temperament was simply this : I felt physi- 
cally incapable of remaining still in any one place, and mor- 
ally incapable of speaking to any one human being, until I 
had first heard all that Ezra Jennings had to say to me. 

In this frame of mind I not only abandoned my contem- 
plated visit to Mrs. Ablewhite — I even shrank from encoun- 
tering Gabriel Betteredge himself. 

Returning to Frizinghall, I left a note for Betteredge, tell- 
ing him that I had been unexpectedly called away for a few 
hours, but that he might certainly expect me to return to- 
ward three o'clock in the afternoon, I requested him, in the 
interval, to order his dinner at the usual hour, and to amuse 
himself as he pleased. He had, as well as I knew, hosts of 
friends in Frizinghall ; and he would be at no loss how to 
fill up his time until I returned to the hotel. 

This done, I made the best of my way out of the town 
again, and roamed the lonely moor-land country which sur- 
rounds Frizinghall, until my watch told me that it was time, 
at last, to return to Mr. Candy's house. 

I found Ezra Jennings ready and waiting for me. 

He was sitting alone in a bare little room, which commu- 
nicated by a glazed door with a surgery. Hideous colored 
diagrams of the ravages of hideous diseases, decorated the 
barren buff-colored walls. A book-case filled with dingy 
medical works and ornamented at the top with a skull, in 
place of the customary bust ; a large deal table copiously 
splashed with ink ; wooden chairs of the sort that are seen 
in kitchens and cottages ; a threadbare drugget in the mid- 
dle of the floor; a sink of water, with a basin and waste-pipe 
roughly let into the wall, horribly suggestive of its connec- 

419 



THE MOONSTONE 

tion with surgical operations — comprised the entire furniture 
of the room. The bees were humming among a few flowers 
placed in pots outside the window ; the birds were singing 
in the garden; and the faint intermittent jingle of a tuneless 
piano in some neighboring house, forced itself now and again 
on the ear. In any other place, these every-day sounds might 
have spoken pleasantly of the every-day world outside. Here 
they came in as intruders on a silence which nothing but 
human suffering had the privilege to disturb. I looked at 
the mahogany instrument-case and at the huge roll of lint, 
occupying places of their own on the book-shelves, and shud- 
dered inwardly as I thought of the sounds, familiar and ap- 
propriate to the every-day use of Ezra Jennings's room. 

"I make no apology, Mr. Blake, for the place in which I 
am receiving you," he said. "It is the only room in the 
house, at this hour of the day, in which we can feel quite 
sure of being left undisturbed. Here are my papers ready 
for you ; and here are two books to which we may have oc- 
casion to refer, before we have done. Bring your chair to 
the table, and we shall be able to consult them together." 

I drew up to the table ; and Ezra Jennings handed me his 
manuscript notes. They consisted of two large folio leaves 
of paper. One leaf contained writing which only covered 
the surface at intervals. The other presented writing, in 
red and black ink, which completely' filled the page from 
top to bottom. In the irritated state of my curiosity at that 
moment, I laid aside the second sheet of paper in despair. 

"Have some mercy on me !" I said. "Tell me what I am 
to expect before I attempt to read this." 

"Willingly, Mr. Blake. Do you mind my asking you one 
or two more questions?" 

"Ask me anything you like!" 

He looked at me with a sad smile on his lips, and the 
kindly interest in his soft brown eyes. 

"You have already told me," he said, "that you have never 
— to your knowledge — tasted opium in your life." 

"To my knowledge?" I repeated. 

"You will understand directly why J speak with that res- 
ervation. Let us go on. You are not aware of ever having 
taken opium. At this time, last year, you were suffering 

420 



THE MOONSTONE 

from nervous irritation, and you slept wretchedly at night. 
On the night of tlie birthday, however, there was an exception 
to the rule — you slept soundly. Am I right, so far?" 

"Quite right." 

"Can you assign any cause for your nervous suffering and 
your want of sleep?" 

"I can assign no cause. Old Betteredge made a guess at 
the cause, I remember. But that is hardly worth mentioning." 

"Pardon me. Any thing is worth mentioning in such a 
case as this. Betteredge attributed your sleeplessness to 
something. To what?" 

"To my leaving off smoking." 

"Had you been an habitual smoker?" 

"Yes." 

"Did you leave off the habit suddenly?" 

"Yes." 

"Betteredge v/as perfectly right, Mr. Blake. When smok- 
ing is a habit, a man must have no common constitution who 
can leave it off suddenly without some temporary damage 
to his nervous system. Your sleepless nights are accounted 
for, to my mind. My next question refers to Mr. Candy. 
Do you remember having entered into any thing like a dis- 
pute with him — at the birthday dinner or afterward — on the 
subject of his profession?" 

The question instantly awakened one of my dormant re- 
membrances in connection with the birthday festival. The 
foolish wrangle which took place on that occasion, between 
Mr. Candy and myself, will be found, described at much 
greater length than it deserves, in the tenth chapter of Bet- 
teredge's Narrative. The details there presented of the dis- 
pute — so little had I thought of it afterward — entirely failed 
to recur to my memory. All that I could now recall, and 
all that I could tell Ezra Jennings was that I had attacked 
the art of medicine at the dinner-table with sufificient rash- 
ness and sufficient pertinacity to put even Mr. Candy out of 
temper for the moment. I also remembered that Lady Ver- 
inder had interfered to stop the dispute, and that the little 
doctor and I had "made it up again," as the children say, 
and had become as good friends as ever before we shook 
hands that night. 

421 



THE MOONSTONE 

"There is one thing more," said Ezra Jennings, "which it 
is very important that I should know. Had you any reason 
for feeUng any special anxiety about the Diamond at this 
time last year?" 

"I had the strongest reasons for feeling anxiety about the 
Diamond. I knew it to be the object of a conspiracy; and 
I was warned to take measures for Miss Verinder's protec- 
tion, as the possessor of the stone." 

"Was the safety of the Diamond the subject of conversa- 
tion between you and any other person immediately before 
you retired to rest on the birthday night?" 

"It was the subject of a conversation between Lady Ver- 
inder and her daughter — " 

"Which took place in your hearing?" 

"Yes." 

Ezra Jennings took up his notes from the table and placed 
them in my hands. 

"Mr. Blake," he said, "if you read those notes now, by the 
light which my questions and your answers have thrown on 
them, you will make two astounding discoveries concerning 
yourself. You will find : First, that you entered Miss Ver- 
inder's sitting-room and took the Diamond, in a state of 
trance produced by opium. Secondly, that the opium was 
given to you by Mr. Candy — without your own knowledge 
— as a practical refutation of the opinions which you had 
expressed to him at the birthday dinner." 

I sat, with the papers in my hand, completely stupefied. 

"Try and forgive poor Mr. Candy," said the assistant, 
gently. "He has done dreadful mischief, I own ; but he has 
done it innocently. If you will look at the notes you will 
see that — but for his illness — he would have returned to 
Lady Verinder's the morning after the party, and would 
have acknowledged the trick that he had played you. Miss 
Verinder would have heard of it, and Miss Verinder would 
have questioned him — and the truth which has laid hidden 
for a year would have been discovered in a day." 

I began to regain my self-possession. "Mr. Candy is be- 
yond the reach of my resentment," I said, angrily. "But 
the trick that he played me is not the less an act of treach- 
ery for all that. I may forgive, but I shall not forget it." 

I 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Every medical man commits that act of treachery, Mr. 
Blake, in the course of his practice. The ignorant distrust 
of opium, in England, is by no means confined to the lower 
and less cultivated classes. Every doctor in large practice 
finds himself, every now and then, obliged to deceive his 
patients, as Mr. Candy deceived you. I don't defend the folly 
of playing you a trick under the circumstances. I only plead 
with you for a more accurate and more merciful construction 
of motives." 

"How was it done?" I asked. "Who gave me the lauda- 
num without my knowing it myself?" 

"I am not able to tell you. Nothing relating to that part 
of the matter dropped from Mr. Candy's lips, all through his 
illness. Perhaps your own memory may point to the person 
to be suspected?" 

"No." 

"It is useless, in that case, to pursue the inquiry. The 
laudanum was secretly given to you in some way. Let us 
leave it there and go on to matters of more immediate im- 
portance. Read my notes, if you can. Familiarize your 
mind with what has happened in the past. I have something 
very bold and very startling to propose to you which relates 
to the future." 

Those last words roused me. 

I looked at the papers, in the order in which Ezra Jennings 
had placed them in my hands. The paper which contained 
the smaller quantity of writing was the uppermost of the 
two. On this the disconnected words and fragments of sen- 
tences which had dropped from Mr. Candy in delirium ap- 
peared, as follows : 

"....Mr. Franklin Blake.... and agreeable. .. .down a 
peg. . . .medicine. . . .confesses. . . .sleep at night. . . .tell him 
.... out of order .... medicine .... he tells me .... and grop- 
ing in the dark mean one and the same thing. . . .all the com- 
pany at the dinner-table. . . .1 say. . . .groping after sleep. . . . 
nothing but medicine. . . .he says. . . .leading the blind. . . . 
know what it means. .. .witty. .. .a night's rest in spite of 
his teeth. . . .wants sleep. . . .Lady Verinder's medicine-chest 
. . . . five-and-twenty minims. .. .without his knowing it.... 
to-morrow morning. . . .Well, Mr. Blake. . . .medicine to-day 

423 



THE MOONSTONE 

... .never. .. .without it.... out, Mr. Candy. .. .excellent 
. . . .without it. . . .down on him. . . .truth. . . .something be- 
sides. .. .excellent. .. .dose of laudanum, sir. . . .bed. . . , 
what. . . .medicine now." 

There the first of the two sheets of paper came to an end. 
I handed it back to Ezra Jennings. 

"That is what you heard at his bedside?" I said. 

"Literally and exactly what I heard," he answered; "ex- 
cept that the repetitions are not transferred here from my 
short-hand notes. He reiterated certain words and phrases 
a dozen times over, fifty times over, just as he attached more 
or less importance to the idea which they represented. The 
repetitions, in this sense, were of some assistance to me in 
putting together those fragments. Don't suppose," he added, 
pointing to the second sheet of paper, "that I claim to have 
reproduced the expressions which Mr. Candy himself would 
have used if he had been capable of speaking connectedly. 
I only say that I have penetrated through the obstacle of the 
disconnected expression to the thought which was underlying 
it connectedly all the time. Judge for yourself." 

I turned to the second sheet of pSper, which I now knew 
to be the key to the first. 

Once more, Mr. Candy's wanderings appeared, copied in 
black ink ; the intervals between the phrases being filled up 
by Ezra Jennings in red ink. I reproduce the result here, in 
one plain form ; the original language and the interpreta- 
tion of it coming close enough together in these pages to be 
easily compared and verified. 

"....Mr. Franklin Blake is clever and agreeable, but he 
wants taking down a peg when he talks of medicine. He 
confesses that he has been suffering from want of sleep at 
night. I tell him that his nerves are out of order, and that 
he ought to take medicine. He tells me that taking medi- 
cine and groping in the dark mean one and the same thing. 
This before all the company at the dinner-table. I say to 
him, you are groping after sleep, and nothing but medicine 
can help you to find it. He says to me, I have heard of the 
blind leading the blind, and now I know what it means. 
Witty — but I can give him a night's rest in spite of his teeth. 
He really wants sleep; and Lady Verinder's medicine-chest 

424 



THE MOOlN 

is at my disposal. Give him five, 
laudanum to-night, without his know., 
to-morrow morning. 'Well, Mr. Blake, ■•. 
medicine to-day? You will never sleep Wi' 
you are out, Mr. Candy : I have had an excehv 
without it.' Then come down on him with tht 
have had something besides an excellent nigi 
had a dose of laudanum, sir, before you went tc 
do you say to the art of medicine now ?' " 

Admiration of the ingenuity which had woven l 
and finished texture out of the raveled skein was 
the first impression that I felt on handing the ma 
back to Ezra Jennings. He modestly interrupted th 
few words in which my sense of surprise expressed itseL 
asking me if the conclusion which he had drawn from hi 
notes was also the conclusion at which my own mind had 
arrived. 

"Do you believe as I believe," he said, "that you were 
acting under the influence of the laudanum in doing all that 
you did, on the night of Miss Verinder's birthday, in Lady 
Verinder's house?" 

"I am too ignorant of the influence of laudanum to have 
an opinion of my own," I answered. "I can only follow your 
opinion, and feel convinced that you are right." 

"Very well. The next question is this : You are con- 
vinced ; and I am convinced — how are we to carry our con- 
viction to the minds of other people?" 

I pointed to the two manuscripts, lying on the table be- 
tween us. Ezra Jennings shook his head. 

"Useless, Mr. Blake ! Quite useless, as they stand now, 
for three unanswerable' reasons. In the first place, those 
notes have been taken under circumstances entirely out of 
the experience of the mass of mankind. Against them, to 
begin with ! In the second place, those notes represent a 
medical and metaphysical theory. Against them, once more .' 
In the third place, those notes are of my making; there is 
nothing but my assertion to the contrary to guarantee that 
they are not fabrications. Remember what I told you on 
the moor — and ask yourself what my assertion is worth. 
No ! my notes have but one value, looking to the verdict of 

425 



JONSTONE 

.- innocence is to be vindicated ; and 
je done. We must put our conviction 
jU are the man to prove it." 
a. 
igerly nearer to me across the table that di- 
cing to try a bold experiment?" 
anything to clear myself of the suspicion that 

-OW. 

1 submit to some personal inconvenience for a 

.y inconvenience, no matter what it may be." 
X you be guided implicitly by my advice? It may 
jC you to the ridicule of fools ; it may subject you to 

\i remonstrances of friends whose opinions you are bound 
to respect — " 

"Tell me what to do!" I broke out impatiently. ''And, 
come what may, I'll do it." 

"You shall do this, Mr. Blake," he answered. "You shall 
steal the Diamond, unconsciously, for the second time, in the 
presence of witnesses whose testimony is beyond dispute." 

I started to my feet. I tried to speak. I could only look 
at him. 

"I believe it can be done," he went on. "And it shall be 
done — if you will only help me. Try to compose yourself — 
sit down and hear what I have to say to you. You have 
resumed the habit of smoking; I have seen that for myself. 
How long have you resumed it ?" 

"For nearly a year." 

"Do you smoke more or less than you did?" 

"More." 

"Will you give up the habit again ? Suddenly, mind ! as 
you gave it up before." 

I began dimly to see his drift. "I will give it up from 
this moment," I answered. 

"If the same consequences follow which followed last 
June," said Ezra Jennings — "if you suffer once more as you 
suffered then, from sleepless nights, we shall have gained our 
first step. We shall have put you back again into something 
assirnilating to your nervous condition on the birthday night. 

426 



THE MOONSTONE 

If we can next revive, or nearly revive, the domestic circum- 
stances which surrounded you ; and if we can occupy your 
mind again with the various questions concerning the Dia- 
mond which formerly agitated it, we shall have replaced you, 
as nearly as possible, in the same position, physically and 
morally, in which the opium found you last year. In that 
case we may fairly hope that a repetition of the dose will 
lead, in a greater or lesser degree, to a repetition of the re- 
sult. There is my proposal, expressed in a few hasty words. 
You shall now see what reasons I have to justify me in mak- 
ing it." 

He turned to one of the books at his side, and opened it 
at a place marked by a small slip of paper. 

"Don't suppose that I am going to weary you with a lec- 
ture on physiology," he said. "I think myself bound to 
prove, in justice to both of us, that I am not asking you to 
try this experiment in deference to any theory of my own 
devising. Admitted principles and recognized authorities 
justify me in the view that I take. Give me five minutes 
of your attention, and I will undertake to show you that 
science sanctions my proposal, fanciful as it may seem. 
Here, in the first place, is the physiological principle on 
which I am acting, stated by no less a person than Dr. Car- 
penter. Read it for yourself." 

He handed me the slip of paper which had marked the 
place in the book. It contained a few lines of writing, as 
follows : 

"There seems much ground for the belief that every sen- 
sory impression which has once been recognized by the per- 
ceptive consciousness, is registered, so to speak, in the brain, 
and may be reproduced at some subsequent time, although 
there may be no consciousness of its existence in the mind 
during the whole intermediate period." 

"Is that plain, so far?" asked Ezra Jennings. 

"Perfectly plain." 

He pushed the open book across the table to me, and pointed 
to a passage marked by pencil lines. 

"Now," he said, "read that account of a case which has 
- — as I believe — a direct bearing on your own position, and 
on the experiment which I am tempting you to try. Ob- 

4-^7 



THE MOONSTONE 

serve, Mr. Blake, before you begin, that I am now referring 
you to one of the greatest of English physiologists. The 
book in your hand is Doctor EUiotson's Human Physiology ; 
and the case which the doctor cites rests on the well-known 
authority of Mr. Combe." 

The passage pointed out to' me was expressed in these 
terms : 

"Doctor Abel informed me," says Mr. Combe, "of an Irish 
porter to a warehouse, who forgot, when sober, what he had 
done when drunk ; but, being drunk, again recollected the 
transactions of his former state of intoxication. On one oc- 
casion, being drunk, he had lost a parcel of some value, and 
in his sober moments could give no account of it. Next time 
he was intoxicated he recollected that he had left a parcel at 
a certain house, and there being no address on it, it had re- 
mained there safely, and was got on his calling for it." 

"Plain again ?" asked Ezra Jennings. 

"As plain as need be." 

He put back the slip of paper in its place, and closed the 
book. 

"Are you satisfied that I have not spoken without good 
authority to support me?" he asked. 'Tf not, I have only 
to go to those book-shelves, and you have only to read the 
passages which I can point out to you." 

"I am quite satisfied," I said, "without reading a word 
more." 

"In that case, we m_ay return to your own personal inter- 
est in this matter. I am bound to tell you that there is 
something to be said against the experiment as well as for 
it. If we could, this year, exactly reproduce, in your case, 
the conditions as they existed last year, it is physiologically 
certain that we should arrive at exactly the same result. 
But this — there is no denying it — is simply impossible. We 
can only hope to approximate to the conditions ; and if we 
don't succeed in getting you nearly enough back to what 
you were, this venture of ours will fail. If we do succeed — 
and I am myself hopeful of success — 3'ou may at least so far 
repeat your proceedings on the birthday night as to satisfy 
any reasonable person that you are guiltless, morally speak- 
ing, of the theft of the Diamond. I believe, Mr. Blake, I 

428 



THE MOONSTONE 

have now stated the question, on both sides of it, as fairly 
as I can, within the limits that I have imposed on myself. 
If there is any thing that I have not made clear to you, tell 
me what it is — and if I can enlighten you, I will." 

"All that you have explained to me," I said, 'T under- 
stand perfectly. But I own I am puzzled on one point, which 
you have not made clear to me yet." 

"What is the point?" 

"I don't understand the effect of the laudanum on me. I 
don't understand my walking down stairs, and along corri- 
dors, and my opening and shutting the drawers of a cabinet, 
and my going back again to my own room. All these are 
active proceedings. I thought the influence of opium was 
first to stupefy you, and then to send you to sleep." 

"The common error about opium, Mr. Blake ! I am at this 
moment exerting my intelligence, such as it is, in your ser- 
vice, under the influence of a dose of laudanum, some ten 
times larger than the dose Mr. Candy administered to you. 
But don't trust to my authority — even on a question which 
comes within my own personal experience. I anticipated 
the objection you have just made; and I have again pro- 
vided myself with independent testimony, which will carry 
its due weight with it in your own mind, and in the minds 
of your friends." 

He handed me the second of the two books which he had 
by him on the table. 

"There," he said, "are the far-famed 'Confessions of an 
English Opium Eater!' Take the book away with you, and 
read it. At the passage which I have marked you will find 
that when De Quincey had committed what he calls 'a. de- 
bauch of opium,' he either went to the gallery at the Opera 
to enjoy the music, or he wandered about the London mar- 
kets on Saturday night, and interested himself in observing 
all the little shifts and bargainings of the poor in providing 
their Sunday dinners. So much for the capacity of a man 
to occupy himself actively and to move about from place to 
place under the influence of opium." 

"I am answered so far," I said ; "but I am not answered 
yet as to the effect produced by the opium on myself." 

"I will try to answer you in few words," said Ezra Jen- 

429 



THE MOONSTONE 

nings. "The action of opium is comprised, in the majority 
of cases, in two influences — a stimulating influence first, and 
a sedative influence afterward. Under the stimulating influ- 
ence, the latest and most vivid impressions left on your mind 
— namely, the impressions relating to the Diamond — would 
be likely, in your morbidly sensitive nervous condition, to 
become . intensified in your brain and would subordinate to 
themselves your judgment and your will — exactly as an or- 
dinary dream subordinates to itself your judgment and your 
will. Little by little, under this action, any apprehensions 
about the safety of the Diamond which you might have felt 
during the day, would be liable to develop themselves from 
the state of doubt to the state of certainty — would impel 
you into practical action to preserve the jewel — would di- 
rect your steps, with that motive in view, into the room 
which you entered — and would guide your hand to the 
drawers of the cabinet, until you had found the drawer which 
held the stone. In the spiritualized intoxication of opium, 
you would do all that. Later, as the sedative action began 
to gain on the stimulant action, you would slowly become 
inert and stupefied. Later still, you would fall into a deep 
sleep. When the morning came and the effect of the opium 
had been all slept off, you would wake as absolutely igno- 
rant of what you had done in the night as if you had been 
living at the Antipodes. — Have I made it tolerably clear to 
you, so far?" 

"You have made it so clear," I said, "that I want you to 
go farther. You have shown me how I entered the room, 
and how I came to take the Diamond. But Aliss Verinder 
saw me leave the room again, with the jewel in my hand. 
Can you trace my proceedings from that moment? Can you 
guess what I did next?" 

"That is the very point I was coming to," he rejoined. 
"It is a question with me whether the experiment which I 
propose as a means of vindicating your innocence may not 
also be made a means of recovering the lost Diamond as 
well. When you left Miss Verinder's sitting-room, with the 
jewel in your hand, you went back in all probability to your 
own room — " 

"Yes; and what then?" 

430 



THE MOONSTONE 

"It is possible, Mr. Blake — I dare not say more — that your 
idea of preserving the Diamond led, by a natural sequence, 
to the idea of hiding the Diamond, and that the place in 
which you hid it was somewhere in your bedroom. In that 
event, the case of the Irish porter may be your case. You 
may remember, under the influence of the second dose of 
opium, the place in which you hid the Diamond under the 
influence of the first." 

It was my turn, now, to enlighten Ezra Jennings. I stopped 
him before he could say any more. 

"You are speculating," I said, "on a result which can not 
possibly take place. The Diamond is, at this moment, in 
London." 

He started, and looked at me in great surprise. 

"In London?" he repeated. "How did it get to London 
from Lady Verinder's house?" 

"Nobody knows." 

"You removed it with your own hand from Miss Verin- 
der's room. How was it taken out of your keeping?" 

"I have no idea how it was taken out of my keeping." 

"Did you see it, when you woke in the morning?" 

"No." 

"Has Miss Verinder recovered possession of it?" 

"No." 

"Mr. Blake ! there seems to be something here which wants 
clearing up. May I ask how you know that the Diamond 
is, at this moment, in London?" 

I had put precisely the same question to Mr. Bruff, when 
I made my first inquiries about the Moonstone, on my return 
to England. In answering Ezra Jennings, I accordingly re- 
peated what I had myself heard from the lawyer's own lips 
— and what is already familiar to the readers of these pages. 

He showed plainly that he was not satisfied with my reply. 

"With all deference to you," he said, "and with all defer- 
ence to your legal adviser, I maintain the opinion which I 
expressed just now. It rests, I am well aware, on a mere as- 
sumption. Pardon me for reminding you that your opinion 
also rests on a mere assumption as well." 

The view he took of the matter w^as entirely new to me. 
I waited anxiously to hear how he would defend it. 

43^ 



THE MOONSTONE 

'7 assume," pursued Ezra Jennings, "that the influence 
of the opium — after impelling you to possess yourself of the 
Diamond, with the purpose of securing its safety — might 
also impel you, acting under the same influence and the same 
motive, to hide it somewhere in your own room. You assume 
that the Hindoo conspirators could by no possibility commit 
a mistake. The Indians went to Mr. Luker's house after 
the Diamond — and, therefore, in Mr. Luker's possession the 
Diamond must be ! Have you any evidence to prove that the 
Moonstone was taken to London at all? You can't even 
guess how, or by whom, it was removed from Lady Verin- 
der's house! Have you any evidence that the jewel was 
pledged to Mr. Luker? He declares that he never heard of 
the Moonstone : and his bankers' receipt acknowledges no- 
thing but the deposit of a valuable of great price. The In- 
dians assume that Mr. Luker is lying — and you assume again 
that the Indians are right. All I say in defense of my view 
is — that it is possible. What more, Mr. Blake, either logically 
or legally, can be said for yours?" 

It was put strongly ; but there was no denying that it was 
put truly as well. 

"I confess you stagger me," I replied. "Do you object to 
my writing to Mr, Bruflf, and telling him what you have 
said?" 

"On the contrary, I shall be glad if you will write to Mr. 
Bruff. If we consult his experience we may see the matter 
under a new light. For the present, let us return to our ex- 
periment with the opium. We have decided that you leave 
off the habit of smoking from this moment?" 

"From this moment." 

"That is the first step. The next step is to reproduce, as 
nearly as we can, the domestic circumstances which sur- 
rounded you last year." 

How was this to be done? Lady Verinder was dead. 
Rachel and I, so long as the suspicion of theft rested on 
me, were parted irrevocably. Godfrey Ablewhite was away, 
traveling on the Continent. It was simply impossible to 
re-assemble the people who had inhabited the house when I 
had slept in it last. The statement of this objection did not 
appear to embarrass Ezra Jennings. He attached very little 

432 



THE MOONSTONE 

importance, he said, to re-assembling the same people — see- 
ing that it would be vain to expect them to re-assume the 
various positions which they had occupied toward me in the 
past time. On the other hand, he considered it essential to 
the success of the experiment that I should see the same ob- 
jects about me which had surrounded me when I was last 
in the house. 

"Above all things," he said, "you must sleep in the room 
which you slept in on the birthday night, and it must be 
furnished in the same way. The stairs, the corridors, and 
Miss Verinder's sitting-room, must also be restored to what 
they were when you saw them last. It is absolutely neces- 
sary, Mr. Blake, to replace every article of furniture in that 
part of the house which may now be put away. The sacri- 
fice of your cigars will be useless unless we can get Miss 
Verinder's permission to do that." 

"Who is to apply to her for permission?" I asked. 

"Is it not possible for yoit to apply ?" 

"Quite out of the question. After what has passed be- 
tween us on the subject of the lost Diamond, I can neither 
see her, nor write to her, as things are now." 

Ezra Jennings paused, and considered for a moment. 

"May I ask you a delicate question?" he said. 

I signed to him to go on. 

"Am I right, Mr. Blake, in fancying (from one or two 
things which have dropped from you) that you felt no com- 
mon interest in Miss Verinder in former times?" 

"Quite right." 

"Was the feeling returned?" 

"It was." 

"Do you think Miss Verinder would be likely to feel a 
strong interest in the attempt to prove your innocence?" 

"I am certain of it." 

"In that case / will write to Miss Verinder — if you will 
give me leave." 

"Telling her of the proposal that you have made to me?" 

"Telling her of everything that has passed between us 
to-day." 

It is needless to say that I eagerly accepted the service 
which he had offered to me. 

^ 433 



THE MOONSTONE 

"I shall have time to write by to-day's post," he said, 
looking at his watch. "Don't forget to lock up your cigars 
when you get back to the hotel ! I will call to-morrow 
morning and hear how you have passed the night." 

I rose to take leave of him, and attempted to express the 
grateful sense of his kindness which I really felt. 

He pressed my hand gently. "Remember what I told you 
on the moor," he answered. "H I can do you this little ser- 
vice, Mr. Blake, I shall feel it like a last gleam of sunshine 
falling on the evening of a long and cloudy day." 

We parted. It was then the fifteenth of June. The 
events of the next ten days — every one of them more or less 
directly connected with the experiment of which I was the 
passive object — are all placed on record, exactly as they 
happened, in the journal habitually kept by Mr. Candy's 
assistant. In the pages of Ezra Jennings nothing is con- 
cealed, and nothing is forgotten. Let Ezra Jennings tell how 
the venture with the opium was tried, and how it ended. 



FOURTH NARRATIVE 

Extracted from the Journal of Ezra Jennings, 

1849. — June 1 5.... With some interruption from patients, 
and some interruption from pain, I finished my letter to Miss 
Verinder in time for to-day's post. I failed to make it as 
short a letter as I could have wished. But I think I have 
made it plain. It leaves her entirely mistress of her own 
decision. If she consents to assist the experiment, she con- 
sents of her own free-will, and not as a favor to Mr. Frank- 
lin Blake or to me. 

Jime 16. — Rose late, after a dreadful night; the vengeance 
of yesterday's opium pursuing me through a series of fright- 
ful dreams. At one time, I was whirling through empty 
space with the phantoms of the dead, friends and enemies 
together. At another, the one beloved face which I shall 

434 



THE MOONSTONE 

never see again rose at my bedside, hideously phosphores- 
cent in the black darkness, and glared and grinned at me. 
A slight return of the old pain, at the usual time in the early 
morning, was welcome as a change. It dispelled the visions 
^and it was bearable because it did that. 

My bad night made it late in the morning before I could 
get to Mr. Franklin Blake. I found him stretched on the 
sofa, breakfasting on brandy and soda-water, and a dry 
biscuit. 

'T am beginning as well as you could possibly wish," he 
said. "A miserable, restless night and a total failure of appe- 
tite this morning. Exactly what happened last year when 
I gave up my cigars. The sooner I am ready for my second 
dose of laudanum the better I shall be pleased." 

"You shall have it on the earliest possible day," I answered. 
'Tn the mean time, we must be as careful of your health 
as we can. If we allow you to become exhausted, we shall 
fail in that way. You must get an appetite for your dinner. 
In other words, you must get a ride or a walk this morning 
in the fresh air." 

"I will ride, if they can find me a horse here. By-the-bye, 
I wrote to Mr. Bruff yesterday. Have you written to Miss 
Verinder?" 

"Yes — by last night's post." 

"Very good. We shall have some news worth hearing to 
tell each other to-morrow. Don't go yet. I have a word 
to say to you. You appeared to think, yesterday, that our 
experiment with the opium was not likely to be viewed very 
favorably by some of my friends. You were quite right; I 
call old Gabriel Betteredge one of my friends and you will 
be amused to hear that he protested strongly when I saw 
him yesterday. 'You have done a wonderful number of 
foolish things in the course of your life, Mr. Franklin ; but 
this tops them all !' There is Betteredge's opinion ! You 
will make allowances for his prejudices, I am sure, if you and 
he happen to meet." 

I left Mr. Blake, to go my rounds among my patients; 
feeling the better and the happier even for the short inter- 
view that I had had with him. 

What is the secret of the attraction that there is for me in 

435 



THE MOONSTONE 

this man? Does it only mean that I feel the contrast be- 
tween the frankly kind manner in which he has allowed me 
to become acquainted with him and the merciless dislike and 
distrust with which I am met by other people? Or is there 
really something in him which answers to the yearning that 
I have for a little human sympathy — the yearning, which 
has survived the solitude and persecution of many years ; 
which seems to grow keener and keener, as the time comes 
nearer and nearer when I shall endure and feel no more? 
How useless to ask these questions ! Mr. Blake has given 
me a new interest in life. Let that be enough, without seeking 
to know what the new interest is. 

June 17. — Before breakfast this morning Mr. Candy in- 
formed me that he was going away for a fortnight, on a visit 
to a friend in the south of England. He gave me as many 
special directions, poor fellow, about the patients, as if he 
still had the large practice which he possessed before he was 
taken ill. The practice is worth little enough now ! Other 
doctors have superseded him; and nobody who can help it 
will employ ine. 

It is perhaps fortunate that he is to be away just at this 
time. He would have been mortified if I had not informed 
him of the experiment which I am going to try with Mr. 
Blake. And I hardly know what undesirable results might 
not have happened if I had taken him into my confidence. 
Better as it is. Unquestionably, better as it is. 

The post brought me Miss Verinder's answer, after Mr. 
Candy had left the house. 

A charming letter ! It gives me the highest opinion of 
her. There is no attempt to conceal the interest that she 
feels in our proceedings. She tells me, in the prettiest man- 
ner, that my letter has satisfied her of Mr. Blake's innocence, 
without the slightest need, so far as she is concerned, of put- 
ting my assertion to the proof. She even upbraids herself — 
most undeservedly, poor thing! — for not having divined at 
the time what the true solution of the mystery might really 
be. The motive underlying all this proceeds evidently from 
something more than a generous eagerness to make atone- 
ment for a wrong which she has innocently inflicted on an- 

436 



THE MOONSTONE 

other person. It is plain that she has loved him throughout 
the estrangement between them. In more than one place 
the rapture of discovering that he has deserved to be loved 
breaks its way innocently through the stoutest formalities of 
pen and ink and even defies the stronger restraint still of 
writing to a stranger. Is it possible, I ask myself, in read- 
ing this delightful letter, that I, of all men in the world, am 
chosen to be the means of bringing these two young people 
together again? My own happiness has been trampled un- 
der foot ; my own love has been torn from me. Shall I live 
to see a happiness of others, which is of my making — a love 
renewed, which is of my bringing back? Oh merciful Death, 
let me see it before your arms enfold me, before your voice 
whispers to me, "Rest at last !" 

There are two requests contained in the letter. One of 
them prevents me from showing it to Mr. Franklin Blake. I 
am authorized to tell him that Miss Verinder willingly con- 
sents to place her house at our disposal ; and, that said, I 
am desired to add no more. 

So far, it is easy to comply with her wishes. But the sec- 
ond request embarrasses me seriously. 

Not content with having written to Mr. Betteredge, in- 
structing him to carry out whatever directions I may have 
to give. Miss Verinder asks leave to assist me, by personally 
superintending the restoration of her own sitting-room. She 
only waits a word of reply from me, to make the journey to 
Yorkshire and to be present as one of the witnesses on the 
night when the opium is tried for the second time. 

Here, again, there is a motive under the surface ; and, 
here again, I fancy that I can find it out. 

What she has forbidden me to tell Mr. Franklin Blake, 
she is, as I interpret it, eager to tell him with her own lips, 
before he is put to the test which is to vindicate his charac- 
ter in the eyes of other people. I understand and admire 
this generous anxiety to acquit him, without waiting until 
his innocence may, or may not, be proved. It is the atone- 
ment that she is longing to make, poor girl, after having in- 
nocently and inevitably wronged him. But the thing can 
not be done. I have no sort of doubt that the agitation 
which a meeting between them would produce on both sides 

437 



THE MOONSTONE 

— the old feelings which it would revive, the new hopes 
which it would awaken — would, in their effect on the mind 
of Mr. Blake, be almost certainly fatal to the success of our 
experiment. It is hard enough, as things are, to re-produce 
in him the conditions as they existed, or nearly as they ex- 
isted, last year. With new interests and new emotions to 
agitate him, the attempt would be simply useless. 

And yet, knowing this, I can not find it in my heart to 
disappoint her. I must try if I can discover some new ar- 
rangement, before post-time, which will allow me to say Yes 
to Miss Verinder, without damage to the service which I 
have bound myself to render to Mr. Franklin Blake. 

Two o'clock. — I have just returned from my round of med- 
ical visits ; having begun, of course, by calling at the hotel. 

Mr. Blake's report of the night is the same as before. He 
has had some intervals of broken sleep and no more. But 
he feels it less to-day, having slept after yesterday's dinner. 
This after-dinner sleep is the result, no doubt, of the ride 
which I advised him to take. I fear I shall have to curtail 
his restorative exercise in the fresh air. He must not be too 
well ; he must not be too ill. It is a case, as the sailors say, 
of very fine steering. 

He has not heard yet from Mr. Bruff. I found him eager" 
to know if I had received any answer from Miss Verinder. 

I told him exactly what I was permitted to tell, and no 
more. It was quite needless to invent excuses for not show- 
ing him the letter. He told me bitterly enough, poor fellow, 
that he understood the delicacy which disinclined me to pro- 
duce it. "She consents, of course, as a matter of common 
courtesy and common justice," he said. "But she keeps her 
own opinion of me and waits to see the result." I was sorely 
tempted to hint that he was now wronging her as she had 
wronged him. On reflection, I shrank from forestalling her 
in the double luxury of surprising and forgiving him. 

My visit was a very short one. After the experience of 
the other night, I have been compelled once more to give 
up my dose of opium. As a necessary result, the agony 
of the disease that is in me has got the upper hand again. 
I felt the attack coming on, and left abruptly, so as not to 
alarm or distress him. It only lasted a quarter of an hour 

438 



THE MOONSTONE 

this time, and it left me strength enough to go on with my 
work. 

Five o'clock. — I have written my reply to Miss Verinder. 

The arrangement I have proposed reconciles the interest 
on both sides, if she will only consent to it. After first stat- 
ing the objections that there are to a meeting between Mr. 
Blake and herself, before the experiment is tried, I have sug- 
gested that she should so time her journey as to arrive at 
the house privately, on the evening when we make the at- 
tempt. Traveling by the afternoon train from London, she 
would delay her arrival until nine o'clock. At that hour, I 
have undertaken to see Mr. Blake safely into his bed-cham- 
ber ; and so to leave Miss Verinder free to occupy her own 
rooms until the time comes for administering the laudanum. 
When that has been done, there can be no objection to her 
watching the result, with the rest of us. On the next morn- 
ing she shall show ]\Ir. Blake, if she likes, her correspondence 
with me and shall satisfy him in that way that he was ac- 
quitted in her estimation, before the question of his innocence 
was put to the proof. 

In that sense I have written to her. This is all that I can 
do to-day. To-morrow I must see Mr. Betteredge, and give 
the necessary directions for re-opening the house. 

June i8. — Late again, in calling on Mr. Franklin Blake. 
More of that horrible pain in the early morning; followed, 
this time, by complete prostration, for some hours. I fore- 
see, in spite of the penalties which it exacts from me, that I 
shall have to return to the opium for the hundredth time. 
If I had only myself to think of, I should prefer the sharp 
pains to the frightful dreams. But the physical suffering 
exhausts me. If I let myself sink, it may end in my becom- 
ing useless to Mr. Blake at the time when he wants me 
most. 

It was nearly nine o'clock before I could get to the hotel 
to-day. The visit, even in my shattered condition, proved 
to be a most amusing one — thanks entirely to the presence, 
on the scene, of Gabriel Betteredge. 

I found him in the room when I went in. He withdrew 
to the window and looked out. while I put my first custoni- 

439 



THE MOONSTONE 

ary question to my patient. Mr. Blake had slept badly 
again, and he felt the loss of rest this morning more than he 
had felt it yet. 

I asked next if he had heard from Mr. Bruff. 

A letter had reached him that morning. Mr. Bruff ex- 
pressed the strongest disapproval of the course which his 
friend and client was taking under my advice. It was mis- 
chievous — for it excited hopes that might never be realized. 
It was quite unintelligible to his mind, except that it looked 
like a piece of trickery, akin to the trickery of mesmerism, 
clairvoyance, and the like. It unsettled Miss Verinder's 
house, and it would end in unsettling Miss Verinder her- 
self. He had put the case, without mentioning names, to 
an eminent physician ; and the eminent physician had 
smiled, had shaken his head, and had said — nothing. On 
these grounds, Mr. Bruff entered his protest, and left it 
there. 

My next inquiry related to the subject of the Diamond. 
Had the lawyer produced any evidence to prove that the 
jewel was in London? 

No, the lawyer had simply declined to discuss the ques- 
tion. He was himself satisfied that the Moonstone had been 
pledged to Mr. Luker. His eminent absent friend, Mr. Mur- 
thwaite, whose consummate knowledge of the Indian charac- 
ter no one could deny, was satisfied also. Under these cir- 
cumstances, and with the many demands already made on 
him, he must decline entering into any disputes on the sub- 
ject of evidence. Time would show and Mr. Bruff was 
willing to wait for time. 

It was quite plain — even if Mr, Blake had not made it 
plainer still by reporting the substance of the letter, instead 
of reading what was actually written — that distrust of me 
was at the bottom of all this. Having myself foreseen that 
result, I was neither mortified nor surprised. I asked Mr. 
Blake if his friend's protest had shaken him. He answered 
emphatically that it had not produced the slightest effect on 
his mind. I was free after that to dismiss Mr. Bruff from 
consideration — and I did dismiss him, accordingly. 

A pause in the talk between us followed — and Gabriel 
Betteredge came out from his retirement at the window, 

440 



THE MOONSTONE 

"Can you favor me with your attention, sir?" he inquired, 
addressing himself to me. 

"I am quite at your service," I answered. 

Betteredge took a chair and seated himself at the table. 
He produced a huge old-fashioned leather pocket-book, with 
a pencil of dimensions to match. Having put on his specta- 
cles, he opened the pocket-book at a blank page and addressed 
himself to me once more. 

"I have lived," said Betteredge, looking at me sternly, 
"nigh on fifty years in the service of my late lady. I was 
page-boy before that in the service of the old lord, her father. 
I am now somewhere between seventy and eighty years of 
age — never mind exactly where ! I am reckoned to have 
got as pretty a knowledge and experience of the world as 
most men. And what does it all end in? It ends, Mr. Ezra 
Jennings, in a conjuring trick being performed on Mr. Frank- 
lin Blake by a doctor's assistant with a bottle of laudanum ; 
and, by the living jingo, I'm appointed, in my old age, to be 
conjurer's boy! " 

Mr. Blake burst out laughing. I attempted to speak. 
Betteredge held up his hand, in token that he had not done yet. 

"Not a word, Mr. Jennings !" he said. "It don't want a 
word, sir, from you. I have got my principles, thank God. 
If an order comes to me which is own brother to an order 
come from Bedlam, it don't matter. So long as I get it from 
my master or mistress, as the case may be, I obey it. I may 
have my own opinion, which is also, you will please to re- 
member, the opinion of Mr. Bruff — the great Mr. Brufif!" 
said Betteredge, raising his voice, and shaking his head at 
me solemnly. "It don't matter; I withdraw my opinion, 
for all that. My young lady says, 'Do it.' And I say, 
'Miss, it shall be done.' Here I am, with my book and my 
pencil — the latter not pointed so well as I could wish ; but 
when Christians take leave of their senses, who is to expect 
that pencils will keep the<ir points ? Give me your orders, 
Mr. Jennings. I'll have them in writing, sir. I'm determined 
not to be behind 'em, or before 'em, by so much as a hair- 
breadth. I'm a blind agent — that's what I am. A blind 
agent !" repeated Betteredge, with infinite relish of his own 
description of himself. 

441 



THE MOONSTONE 

"I am very sorry/' I began, "that you and I don't 
agree — " 

"Don't bring me into it !" interposed Betteredge. "This 
is not a matter of agreement, it's a matter of obedience. Issue 
your directions, sir — issue your directions !" 

Mr. Blake made me a sign to take him at his word. I 
"issued my directions" as plainly and as gravely as I could. 

"I wish certain parts of the house to be re-opened," I said, 
"and to be furnished exactly as they were furnished at this 
time last year." 

Betteredge gave his imperfectly-pointed pencil a prelimi- 
nary lick with his tongue. "Name the parts, Mr. Jennings!" 
he said loftily. 

"First, the inner hall, leading to the chief staircase." 

" 'First, the inner hall,' " Betteredge wrote. "Impossible 
to furnish that, sir, as it was furnished last year — to begin 
with." 

"Why ?" 

"Because there was a stuffed buzzard, Mr. Jennings, in the 
hall last year. When the family left, the buzzard was put 
away with the other things. When the buzzard was put 
away, he burst." 

"We will except the buzzard, then." 

Betteredge took a note of the exception. "The inner 
hall to be furnished again, as furnished last year. A burst 
buzzard alone excepted. Please to go on, Mr. Jennings." 

"The carpet to be laid down on the stairs, as before." 

" 'The carpet to be laid down on the stairs, as before.' 
Sorry to disappoint you, sir. But that can't be done either." 

"Why not?" ' 

"Because the man who laid that carpet down is dead, ]\Ir. 
Jennings ; and the like of him for reconciling together a car- 
pet and a corner is not to be found in all England, look where 
you may." 

"Very well. We must try the next best man in England." 

Betteredge took another note, and I went on issuing my 
directions. 

"Miss Verinder's sitting-room to be restored exactly to 
what it was last year. Also, the corridor leading from the 
sitting-room to the first landing. Also, the second corridor, 

442 



THE MOONSTONE 

leading from the second landing to the best bedrooms. Also, 
the bedroom occupied last June by Mr. Franklin Blake." 

Betteredge's blunt pencil folloM^ed me conscientiously, 
word by word. "Go on, sir," he said, with sardonic gravity. 
"There's a deal of writing left in the point of this pencil 
yet." 

I told him that I had no more directions to give. "Sir," 
said Betteredge, "in that case, I have a point or two to put 
on my own behalf." He opened the pocket-book at a new 
page, and gave the inexhaustible pencil another preliminary 
lick. 

"I wish to know," he began, "whether I may, or may not, 
wash my hands — " 

"You may, decidedly," said Mr. Blake. "I'll ring for the 
waiter." 

" — of certain responsibilities," pursued Betteredge, im- 
penetrably declining to see any body in the room but him- 
self and me. "As to Miss Verinder's sitting-room, to begin 
with. When we took up the carpet last year, Mr. Jennings, 
we found a svirprising quantity of pins. Am I responsible 
for putting back the pins ?" 

"Certainly not." 

Betteredge made a note of that concession on the spot. 

"As to the first corridor, next," he resumed. "When we 
moved the ornaments in that part, we moved a statue of a 
fat naked child — profanely described in the catalogue of the 
house as 'Cupid, god of Love.' He had two wings last year, 
in the fleshy part of his shoulders. My eye being off him 
for the moment, he lost one of them. Am I responsible for 
Cupid's wing?" 

I made another concession, and Betteredge made another 
note. 

"As to the second corridor," he went on. "There hav- 
ing been nothing in it last year but the doors of the rooms, 
to every one of which I can swear, if necessary, my mind 
is easy, I admit, respecting that part of the house only. But, 
as to Mr. Franklin's bedroom, if that is to be put back to 
what it was before, I want to know who is responsible for 
keeping it in a perpetual state of litter, no matter how often 
it may be set right — his trousers here, his towels there, and 

443 



THE MOONSTONE 

his French novels everywhere — I say, v^ho is responsible 
for untidying the tidiness of Mr. Franklin's room — him or 
me?" * 

Mr. Blake declared that he would assume the whole re- 
sponsibility with the greatest pleasure. Betteredge obsti- 
nately declined to listen to any solution of the difficulty 
without first referring it to my sanction and approval. I 
accepted Mr. Blake's proposal and Betteredge made a last 
entry in the pocket-book to that effect. 

"Look in when you like, Mr. Jennings, beginning from to- 
morrow," he said, getting on his legs. ''You will find me 
at work, with the necessary persons to assist me. I respect- 
fully beg to thank you, sir, for overlooking the case of the 
stuffed buzzard and the other case of the Cupid's wing — as 
also for permitting me to wash my hands of all responsibility 
in respect of the pins on the carpet and the litter in Mr. 
Franklin's room. Speaking as a servant, I am deeply in- 
debted to you. Speaking as a man, I consider you to be a 
person whose head is full of maggots ; and I take up my 
testimony against your experiment as a delusion and a snare. 
Don't be afraid, on that accovmt, of my feelings as a man 
getting in the way of my duty as a servant ! You shall 
be obeyed — the maggots notwithstanding, sir, you shall be 
obeyed. If it ends in your setting the house on fire, damme 
if I send for the engines, unless you ring the bell and order 
them first!" 

With that farewell assurance he fnade me a bow, and 
walked out of the room. 

"Do you think we can depend on him?" I asked. 

"Implicitly," answered Mr. Blake. "When we go to the 
house, we shall find nothing neglected and nothing forgot- 
ten." 

June 19. — Another protest against our contemplated pro- 
ceedings ! From a lady this time. 

The morning's post brought me two letters. One from 
Miss Verinder, consenting, in the kindest manner, to the ar- 
rangement that I have proposed. The other from the lady 
under whose care she is living — one Mrs. Merridew. 

Mrs. Merridew presents her compliments and does not 

444 



THE MOONSTONE 

pretend to understand the subject on which I have been 
corresponding with Miss Verinder, in its scientific bearings. 
Viewed in its social bearings, however, she feels free to pro- 
nounce an opinion. I am probably, Mrs. Merridew thinks, 
not aware that Miss Verinder is barely nineteen years of 
age. To allow a young lady, at her time of life, to be pres- 
ent, without a "chaperon," in a house full of men among 
whom a medical experiment is being carried on, is an out- 
rage on propriety which Mrs. Merridew can not possibly 
permit. If the matter is allowed to proceed, she will feel it 
to be her duty — at a serious sacrifice of her own personal 
convenience — to accompany Miss Verinder to Yorkshire. 
Under these circumstances she ventures to request that I 
will kindly reconsider the subject ; seeing that Miss Verin- 
der declines to be guided by any opinion but mine. Her 
presence can not possibly be necessary and a word from 
me to that efifect would relieve both Mrs. Merridew and my- 
self of a very unpleasant responsibility. 

Translated from polite commonplace into plain English, 
the meaning of this is, as I take it, that Mrs. Merridew stands 
in mortal fear of the opinion of the world. She has unfor- 
tunately appealed to the very last man in existence who 
has any reason to regard that opinion with respect. I won't 
disappoint Miss Verinder; and I won't delay a reconcilia- 
tion between two young people who love each other, and 
who have been parted too long already. Translated from 
plain English into polite commonplace, this means that Mr. 
Jennings presents his compliments to Mrs. Merridew, and 
regrets that he can not feel justified in interfering any far- 
ther in the matter. 

Mr. Blake's report of himself this morning was the same 
as before. We determined not to disturb Betteredge by 
overlooking him at the house to-day. To-morrow will be 
time enough for our first visit of inspection. 

June 20. — Mr. Blake is beginning to feel his continued 
restlessness at night. The sooner the rooms are refurnished 
now the better. 

On our way to the house this morning he consulted me, 
with some nervous impatience and irresolution, about a let- 

445 



THE MOONSTONE 

ter, forwarded to him from London, which he had received 
from Sergeant Cufif. 

The Sergeant writes from Ireland. He acknowledges the 
receipt, through his housekeeper, of a card and message 
which Mr. Blake left at his residence near Dorking, and an- 
nounces his return to England as likely to take place in a 
week or less. In the mean time he requests to be favored 
with Mr. Blake's reasons for wishing to speak to him, as 
stated in the message, on the subject of the Moonstone. If 
Mr. Blake can convict him of having made any serious mis- 
take, in the course of his last year's inquiry concerning the 
Diamond, he will consider it a duty, after the liberal man- 
ner in which he was treated by the late Lady Verinder, to 
place himself at that gentleman's disposal. If not, he begs 
permission to remain in his retirement, surrounded by the 
peaceful floricultural attractions of a country life. 

After reading the letter, I had no hesitation in advising 
Mr. Blake to inform Sergeant Cuff, in reply, of all that had 
happened since the inquiry was suspended last year, and to 
leave him to draw his own conclusions from the plain facts. 

On second thoughts, I also suggested inviting the Ser- 
geant to be present at the experiment, in the event of his re- 
turning to England in time to join us. He would be a val- 
uable witness to have in any case ; and, if I proved to be 
wrong in believing the Diamond to be hidden in Mr. Blake's 
room, his advice might be of great importance, at a future 
stage of the proceedings over which I could exercise no con- 
trol. This last consideration appeared to decide Mr. Blake. 
He promised to follow my advice. 

The sound of the hammer informed us that the work of re- 
furnishing was in full progress, as we entered the drive that 
led to the house. 

Betteredge, attired for the occasion in a fisherman's red 
cap and an apron of green baize, met us in the outer hall. 
The moment he saw me he pulled out the pocket-book and 
pencil and obstinately insisted on taking notes of every 
thing that I said to him. Look where we might, we found, 
as ]\Ir. Blake had foretold, that the work was advancing as 
rapidly and as intelligently as it was possible to desire. But 
there was still much to be done in the inner hall and in Miss 

44-6 



THE MOONSTONE 

Verinder's room. It seemed doubtful whether the house 
would be ready for us before the end of the week. 

Having congratulated Betteredge on the progress that he 
had made, he persisted in taking notes every time I opened 
my lips ; declining, at the same time, to pay the slightest at- 
tention to any thing said by Mr. Blake, and having prom- 
ised to return for a second visit of inspection in a day or two, 
we prepared to leave the house, going out by the back way. 
Before we were clear of the passages down stairs I was 
stopped by Betteredge, just as I was passing the door which 
led into his own room. 

"Could I say two words to you in private ?" he asked, in 
a mysterious whisper. 

I consented, of course. Mr. Blake walked on to wait for 
me in the garden, while I accompanied Betteredge into his 
room. I fully anticipated a demand for certain new conces- 
sions, following the precedent already established in the 
cases of the stuffed buzzard and the Cupid's wing. To my 
great surprise, Betteredge laid his hand confidentially on my 
arm and put this extraordinary question to me : 

"Mr. Jennings, do you happen to be acquainted with Rob- 
inson Crusoe?" 

I answered that I had read Robinson Crusoe when I was 
a child. 

"Not since then ?" inquired Betteredge. 

"Not since then." 

He fell back a few steps, and looked at me with an expres- 
sion of compassionate curiosity, tempered by superstitious 
awe. 

"He has not read Robinson Crusoe since he was a child," 
said Betteredge, speaking to himself — not to me. "Let's 
try how Robinson Crusoe strikes him now !" 

He unlocked a cupboard in a corner and produced a dirty 
and dog's-eared book, which exhaled a strong odor of stale 
tobacco as he turned over the leaves. Having found a pas- 
sage of which he was apparently in search, he requested me 
to join him in the corner ; still mysteriously confidential and 
still speaking under his breath. 

"In respect to this hocus-pocus of yours, sir, with the lauda- 
num and Mr. Franklin Blake," he began. "While the work- 

447 



THE MOONSTONE 

people are in the house, my duty as a servant gets the bet- 
ter of my feehngs as a man. When the work-people are 
gone, my feelings as a man get the better of my duty as a 
servant. Very good. Last night, Mr. Jennings, it was 
borne in powerfully on my mind that this new medical enter- 
prise of yours would end badly. If I had yielded to that se- 
cret dictate, I should have put all the furniture away again 
with my own hands and have warned the workmen off the 
premises when they came the next morning." 

"I am glad to find, from what I have seen up stairs," I 
said, "that you resisted the secret dictate." 

"Resisted isn't the word," answered Betteredge. "Wros- 
tled is the word. I wrostled, sir, between the silent orders 
in my bosom pulling me one way, and the written orders in 
my pocket-book pushing me the other, until, saving your 
presence, I was in a cold sweat. In that dreadful perturba- 
tion of mind and laxity of body, to what remedy did I apply? 
To the remedy, sir, which has never failed me yet for the 
last thirty years and more — to this book !" 

He hit the book a sounding blow with his open hand 
and struck out of it a stronger smell of stale tobacco than 
ever. 

"What did I find here," pursued Betteredge, "at the first 
page I opened? This awful bit, sir, page one hundred and 
seventy-eight, as follows : 'Upon these, and many like Re- 
flections, I afterward made it a certain rule with me. That 
whenever I found those secret Hints or Pressings of my 
]\Iind, to doing, or not doing any Thing that presented ; or 
to going this Way, or that Way, I never failed to obey the 
secret Dictate.' As I live by bread, Mr. Jennings, those 
were the first words that met my eye, exactly at the time 
when I myself was setting the secret dictate at defiance ! 
You don't see any thing at all out of the common in that, 
do you, sir?" 

"I see a coincidence — nothing more." 

"You don't feel at all shaken, Mr. Jennings, in respect to 
this medical enterprise of yours?" 

"Not the least in the world." 

Betteredge stared hard at me, in dead silence. He closed 
the book with great deliberation ; he locked it up again in 

448 



THE MOONSTONE 

the cupboard with extraordinary care ; he wheeled round, 
and stared hard at nie once more. Then he spoke. 

"Sir," he said gravely, "there are great allowances to be 
made for a man who has not read Robinson Crusoe since he 
was a child. I wish you good-morning." 

He opened his door with a low bow, and left me at liberty 
to find my own way into the garden. I met Mr. Blake 
returning to the house. 

"You needn't tell me what has happened," he said. "Bet- 
teredge has played his last card : he has made another pro- 
phetic discovery in Robinson Crusoe. Have you humored 
his favorite delusion ? No ? You have let him see that you 
don't believe in Robinson Crusoe ? Mr. Jennings ! you have 
fallen to the lowest possible place in Betteredge's estimation. 
Say what you like, and do what you like, for the future. 
You will find that he won't waste another word on you now." 

June 21. — A short entry must suffice in my journal to-day. 

Mr. Blake has had the worst night that he has passed yet. 
I have been obliged, greatly against my will, to prescribe 
for him. Men of his sensitive organization are fortunately 
quick in feeling the efifect of remedial measures. Otherwise 
I should be inclined to fear that he will be totally unfit for 
the experiment, when the time comes to try it. 

As for myself, after some little remission of my pains for 
the last two days, I had an attack this morning, of which I 
shall say nothing but that it has decided me to return to 
the opium. I shall close this book, and take my full dose — 
five hundred drops. 

June 22. — Our prospects look better to-day. Mr. Blake's 
nervous sufifering is greatly allayed. He slept a little last 
night. My night, thanks to the opium, was the night of a 
man who is stunned. 1 can't say that I woke this morning; 
the fitter expression would be, that I recovered my senses. 

We drove to the house to see if the refurnishing was done. 
It will be completed to-morrow — Saturday. As Mr. Blake 
foretold, Betteredge raised no further obstacles. From first 
to last he was ominously polite and ominously silent. 

My medical enterprise, as Betteredge calls it, must now 



29 



449 



THE MOONSTONE 

inevitably be delayed until Monday next. To-morrow even- 
ing the workmen will be late in the house. On the next 
day the established Sunday tyranny, which is one of the 
institutions of this free country, so times the trains as to 
make it impossible to ask any body to travel to us from 
London. Until Monday comes there is nothing to be done 
but to watch Mr. Blake carefully and to keep him, if possi- 
ble, in the same state in which I find him to-day. 

In the mean while I have prevailed on him to write to Mr. 
Bruff, making a point of it that he shall be present as one 
of the witnesses. I especially choose the lawyer, because 
he is strongly prejudiced against us. If we convince him, we 
place our victory beyond the possibility of dispute. 

Mr. Blake has also written to Sergeant Cuff and I have 
sent a line to Miss Verinder. With these, and with old Bet- 
teredge, who is really a person of importance in the family, 
we shall have witnesses enough for the purpose — without in- 
cluding Mrs. Merridew, if Mrs. Merridew persists in sacri- 
ficing herself to the opinion of the world. 

June 23. — The vengeance of the opium overtook me again 
last night. No matter ; I must go on with it now till Mon- 
day is passed and gone. 

Mr. Blake is not so well again to-day. At two this morn- 
ing he confesses that he opened the drawer in which his cigars 
are put away. He only succeeded in locking it up again 
by a violent effort. His next proceeding, in case of accident, 
was to throw the key out of window. The waiter brought 
it in this morning, discovered at the bottom of an empty 
cistern — such is Fate! I have taken possession of the key 
until Tuesday next. 

June 24. — Mr. Blake and I took a long drive in an open 
carriage. We both felt beneficially the blessed influence of 
the soft summer air. I dined with him at the hotel. To 
my great relief — for I found him in an overwrought, over- 
excited state this morning — he had two hours' sound sleep 
on the sofa after dinner. If he has another bad night now — 
I am not afraid of the consequences. 

450 



THE MOONSTONE 

June 25, Monday. — The day of the experiment ! It is five 
o'clock in the afternoon. We have just arrived at the house. 

The first and foremost question is the question of Mr. 
Blake's health. 

So far as it is possible for me to judge, he promises, phys- 
ically speaking, to be quite as susceptible to the action of 
the opium to-night as he was at this time last year. He is, 
this afternoon, in a state of nervous sensitiveness which just 
stops short of nervous irritation. He changes color readily, 
his hand is not quite steady, and he starts at chance noises 
and at unexpected appearances of persons and things. 

These results have all been produced by deprivation of 
sleep, which is in its turn the nervous consequence of a sud- 
den cessation in the habit of smoking, after that habit has 
been carried to an extreme. Here are the same causes at 
work again, which operated last year; and here are, appar- 
ently, the same effects. Will the parallel still hold good, 
when the final test has been tried ? The events of the night 
must decide. 

While I write these lines, Mr. Blake is amusing himself 
at the billiard-table in the inner hall, practicing different 
strokes in the game, as he was accustomed to practice them 
when he was a guest in this house in June last. I have 
brought my journal here, partly with a view to occupying 
the idle hours which I am sure to have on my hands between 
this and to-morrow morning; partly in the hope that some- 
thing may happen which it may be worth my while to place 
on record at the time. 

Have I omitted any thing, thus far? A glance at yester- 
day's entry shows me that I have forgotten to note the ar- 
rival of the morning's post. Let me set this right, before I 
close these leaves for the present and join Mr. Blake. 

I received a few lines then, yesterday, from Miss Verinder. 
She has arranged to travel by the afternoon train, as I rec- 
ommended. Mrs. Merridew has insisted on accompanying 
her. The note hints that the old lady's generally excellent 
temper is a little ruffled and requests all due indulgence for 
her, in consideration of her age and her habits. I will en- 
deavor, in my relations with Mrs. Merridew, to emulate the 
moderation which Betteredge displays in his relations with 

451 



THE MOONSTONE 

me. He received us to-day, portentously arrayed in his 
best black suit and his stiffest white cravat. Whenever he 
looks my way, he remembers that I have not read Robinson 
Crusoe since I was a child and he respectfully pities me. 

Yesterday, also, Mr. Blake had the lawyer's answer. Mr. 
Bruff accepts the invitation — under protest. It is, he thinks, 
clearly necessary that a gentleman possessed of the average 
allowance of common sense, should accompany Miss Verinder 
to the scene of, what he will venture to call, the proposed 
exhibition. For want of a better escort, Mr. Bruff himself 
will be that gentleman. — So here is poor Miss Verinder pro- 
vided with two "chaperons." It is a relief to think that the 
opinion of the world must surely be satisfied with this ! 

Nothing has been heard of Sergeant Cuff. He is no doubt 
still in Ireland. We must not expect to see him to-night. 

Betteredge has just come in, to say that Mr. Blake has 
asked for me. I must lay down my pen for the present. 

Seven o'clock. — We have been all over the refurnished 
rooms and staircases again ; and we have had a pleasant 
stroll in the shrubbery, which was Mr. Blake's favorite walk 
when he was here last. In this way, I hope to revive the 
old impressions of places and things as vividly as possible 
in his mind. 

We are now going to dine, exactly at the hour at which 
the birthday dinner was given last year. My object, of 
course, is a purely medical one in this case. The laudanum 
must find the process of digestion, as nearly as may be, 
where the laudanum found it last year. 

At a reasonable time after dinner, I propose to lead the 
conversation back again — as inartificially as I can — to the 
subject of the Diamond and of the Indian conspiracy to 
steal it. When I have filled his mind with these topics, I 
shall have done all that it is in my power to do, before the 
time comes for giving him the second dose. 

Half-past eight. — I have only this moment found an op- 
portunity of attending to the most important duty of all — 
the duty of looking in the family medicine-chest for the 
laudanum which Mr. Candy used last year. 

452 



THE MOONSTONE 

Ten minutes since I caught Betteredge at an unoccupied 
moment, and told him what I wanted. Without a word of 
objection, without so much as an attempt to produce his 
pocket-book, he led the way, making allowances for me at 
every step, to the store-room in which the medicine-chest 
was kept. 

I found the bottle, carefully guarded by a glass stopper 
tied over with leather. The preparation of opium which 
it contained was, as I had anticipated, the common tincture 
of laudanum. Finding the bottle still well filled, I have re- 
solved to use it in preference to employing either of the two 
preparations with which I had taken care to provide myself, 
in case of emergency. 

The question of the quantity which I am to administer 
presents certain difficulties. I have thought it over, and have 
decided on increasing the dose. 

My notes inform me that Mr. Candy only administered 
twenty-five minims. This is a small dose to have produced 
the results which followed — even in the case of a person so 
sensitive as Mr. Blake. I think it highly probable that Mr. 
Candy gave more than he supposed himself to have given — 
knowing, as I do, that he has a keen relish of the pleasures 
of the table, and that he measured out the laudanum on the 
birthday, after dinner. In any case, I shall run the risk of 
enlarging the dose to forty minims. On this occasion Mr. 
Blake knows beforehand that he is going to take the lauda- 
num — which is equivalent, physiologically speaking, to his 
having, unconsciously to himself, a certain capacity in him 
to resist the effects. If my view is right, a larger quantity 
is therefore imperatively required this time, to repeat the re- 
sults which the smaller quantity produced last year. 

Ten o'clock. — The witnesses, or the company, which shall 
I call them, reached the house an hour since. 

A little before nine o'clock I prevailed on Mr. Blake to 
accompany me to his bedroom ; stating, as a reason, that I 
wished him to look round it, for the last time, in order to 
make quite sure that nothing had been forgotten in the re- 
furnishing of the room. I had previously arranged with 
Betteredge that the bed-chamber prepared for Mr. Bruff 

453 



THE MOONSTONE 

should be the next room to Mr. Blake's and that I should 
be informed of the lawyer's arrival by a knock at the door. 
Five minutes after the clock in the hall had struck nine I 
heard the knock ; and, going out immediately, met Mr. Bruff 
in the corridor. 

My personal appearance, as usual, told against me. Mr. 
Bruff's distrust looked at me plainly enough out of Mr. 
Bruflf's eyes. Being w^ell used to producing this effect on 
strangers, I did not hesitate a moment in saying what I 
wanted to say before the lawyer found his way into Mr. 
Blake's room. 

"You have traveled here, I believe, in company with Mrs. 
Merridew and Miss Verinder?" I said. 

"Yes," answered Mr. Bruff, as dryly as might be. 

"Miss Verinder has probably told you that I wish her 
presence in the house, and Mrs. Merridew's presence, of 
course, to be kept a secret from Mr. Blake until my experi- 
ment on him has been tried first ?" 

"I know that I am to hold my tongue, sir!" said Mr. 
Bruff, impatiently. "Being habitually silent on the subject 
of human folly, I am all the readier to keep my lips closed 
on this occasion. Does that satisfy you?" 

I bowed and left Betteredge to show him to his room. 
Betteredge gave me one look at parting which said, as if in 
so many words, "You have caught a Tartar, Mr. Jennings — 
and the name of him is Bruff." 

It was next necessary to get the meeting over with the 
two ladies. I descended the stairs — a little nervously, I 
confess — on my way to Miss Verinder's sitting-room. 

The gardener's wife, charged with looking after the ac- 
commodation of the ladies, met me in the first-floor corridor. 
This excellent womian treats me with an excessive civility 
which is plainly the offspring of downright terror. She 
stares, trembles, and courtesies whenever I speak to her. 
On my asking for Miss Verinder, she stared, trembled, and 
would no doubt have courtesied next, if Miss Verinder her- 
self had not cut that ceremony short by suddenly opening 
her sitting-room door. 

"Is that Mr. Jennings ?" she asked. 

Before I could answer she came out eagerly to speak to 

454 



THE MOONSTONE 

me in the corridor. We met under the light of a lamp on 
a bracket. At the first sight of me Miss Verinder stopped 
and hesitated. She recovered herself instantly, colored for 
a moment, and then, with a charming frankness, offered me 
her hand. 

"I can't treat you like a stranger, Mr. Jennings," she said. 
"Oh, if you only knew how happy your letters have made 
me !" 

She looked at my ugly wrinkled face with a bright grati- 
tude so new to me in my experience of my fellow creatures 
that I was at a loss how to answer her. Nothing had pre- 
pared me for her kindness and her beauty. The misery of 
many years has not hardened my heart, thank God. I was 
as awkward and as shy with her as if I had been a lad in 
my teens. 

"Where is he now?" she asked, giving free expression to 
her one dominant interest — the interest in Mr. Blake. 
"What is he doing? Has he spoken of me? Is he in good 
spirits? How does he bear the sight of the house after what 
happened in it last year? When are you going to give him 
the laudanum? May I see you pour it out? I am so in- 
terested ; I am so excited — I have ten thousand things to 
say to you, and they all crowd together so that I don't know 
what to say first. Do you wonder at the interest I take in 
this?" 

"No," I said. "I venture to think that I thoroughly un- 
derstand it." 

She was far above the paltry affectation of being confused. 
She answered me as she might have answered a brother or 
a father. 

"You have relieved me of indescribable wretchedness ; 
you have given me a new life. How can I be ungrateful 
enough to have any concealments from yonf I love him," 
she said simply ; "I have loved him from first to last — even 
when I was wronging him in my own thoughts ; even when 
I was saying the hardest and the crudest words to him. Is 
there any excuse for me in that? I hope there is — I am 
afraid it is the only excuse I have. When to-morrow comes, 
and he knows that I am in the house, do you think — ?" 

She stopped again, and looked at mc very earnestly. 

455 



THE MOONSTONE 

"When to-morrow comes," I said, 'T think you have only 
to tell him what you have just told me." 

Her face brightened ; she came a step nearer to me. Her 
fingers trifled nervously with a flower which I had picked in 
the garden, and which I had put into the button-hole of my 
coat. 

"You have seen a great deal of him lately," she said. 
"Have you really and truly seen that?" 

"Really and truly," I answered. "I am quite certain of 
what will happen to-morrow. I wish I could feel as certain 
of what will happen to-night." 

At that point in the conversation we were interrupted by 
the appearance of Betteredge with the tea-tray. He gave 
me another significant look as he passed on into the sitting- 
room. "Ay ! ay ! make your hay while the svm shines. The 
Tartar's up stairs, Mr. Jennings — the Tartar's up stairs !" 

We followed him into the room. A little old lady, in a 
corner, very nicely dressed, and very deeply absorbed over a 
smart piece of embroidery, dropped her work in her lap, and 
uttered a faint little scream at the first sight of my gypsy 
complexion and my piebald hair. 

"Mrs. Merridew," said Miss Verinder, "this is Mr. Jen- 
nings." 

"I beg Mr. Jennings's pardon," said the old lady, looking 
at Miss Verinder, and speaking at me. "Railway traveling 
always makes me nervous. I am endeavoring to quiet my 
mind by occupying myself as usual. I don't know whether 
my embroidery is out of place, on this extraordinary occa- 
sion. If it interferes with Mr. Jennings's medical views, I 
shall be happy to put it away, of course." 

I hastened to sanction the presence of the embroidery, ex- 
actly as I had sanctioned the absence of the burst buzzard 
and the Cupid's wing. Mrs. Merridew made an effort — a 
grateful effort — to look at my hair. No ! it was not to be 
done. Mrs. Merridew looked back again at Miss Verinder. 

"If Mr. Jennings will permit me," pursued the old lady, 
"I should like to ask a favor. Mr. Jennings is about to try 
a scientific experiment to-night. I used to attend scientific 
experiments when I was a girl at school. They invariably 
ended in an explosion. If Mr. Jennings will be so very kind, 

456 



THE MOONSTONE 

I should like to be warned of the explosion this time. With 
a view to getting it over, if possible, before I go to bed." 

I attempted to assure Mrs. Merridew that an explosion .was 
not included in the programme on this occasion. 

"No," said the old lady. "I am much obliged to Mr. Jen- 
nings — I am aware that he is only deceiving me for my own 
good. I prefer plain dealing. I am quite resigned to the 
explosion — but I do want to get it over, if possible, before 
I go to bed." 

Here the door opened, and Mrs. Merridew uttered another 
little scream. The advent of the explosion ? No : only the 
advent of Betteredge. 

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Jennings," said Betteredge, in 
his most elaborately confidential manner. "Mr, Franklin 
wishes to know where you are. Being vmder your orders to 
deceive him, in respect to the presence of my young lady in 
the house, I have said I don't know. That, you will please 
to observe, was a lie. Having one foot already in the grave, 
sir, the fewer lies you expect me to tell, the more I shall 
be indebted to you, when my conscience pricks me and my 
time comes." 

There was not a moment to be wasted on the purely specu- 
lative question of Betteredge's conscience. Mr. Blake might 
make his appearance in search of me, unless I went to him 
at once in his own room. Miss Verinder followed me out 
into the corridor. 

"They seem to be in a conspiracy to persecute you," she 
said. "What does it mean?" 

"Only the protest of the world, Miss Verinder — on a very 
small scale — against any thing that is new." 

"What are we to do with Mrs. Merridew?" 

"Tell her the explosion will take place at nine to-morrow 
morning." 

"So as to send her to bed?" 

"Yes — so as to send her to bed." 

Miss Verinder went back to the sitting-room, and I went 
up stairs to Mr. Blake. 

To my surprise, T found him alone : restlessly pacing his 
room, and a little irritated at being left by himself. 

"Where is Mr. Bruff?" I asked. 

457 



THE MOONSTONE 

He pointed to the closed door of communication between 
the two rooms. Mr. Bruff had looked in on him for a mo- 
ment; had attempted to renew his protest against our pro- 
ceedings ; and had once more failed to produce the smallest 
impression on Mr. Blake. Upon this, the lawyer had taken 
refuge in a black leather bag, filled to bursting with profes- 
sional papers. "The serious business of life," he admitted, 
"was sadly out of place on such an occasion as the present. 
But the serious business of life must be carried on, for all 
that. Mr. Blake would perhaps kindly make allowance for 
the old-fashioned habits of a practical man. Time was money 
— and, as for Mr. Jennings, he might depend on it that Mr. 
Bruff would be forthcoming when called upon." With that 
apology the lawyer had gone back to his own room, and had 
immersed himself obstinately in his black bag. 

I thought of Mrs. Merridew and her embroidery, and of 
Betteredge and his conscience. There is a wonderful same- 
ness in the solid side of the English character — just as there 
is a wonderful sameness in the solid expression of the Eng- 
lish face. 

"When are you going to give me the laudanum?" asked 
Mr. Blake, impatiently. 

"You must wait a little longer," I said. "I will stay and 
keep you company till the time comes." 

It was not then ten o'clock. Inquiries which I had made at 
various times of Betteredge and Mr. Blake had led me to the 
conclusion that the dose of laudanum given by Mr. Candy 
could not possibly have been administered before eleven. I 
had accordingly determined not to try the second dose until 
that time. 

We talked a little ; but both our minds were preoccupied 
by the coming ordeal. The conversation soon flagged — then 
dropped altogether. Mr. Blake idly turned over the books 
on his bedroom table. I had taken the precaution of looking 
at them, when we first entered the room. The Guardian ; 
The Tatler ; Richardson's Pamela ; Mackenzie's Man of Feel- 
ing; Roscoe's Lorenzo de' Medici; and Robertson's Charles 
the Fifth — all classical works ; all, of course, immeasurably 
superior to any thing produced in later times; and all, from 
my present point of view, possessing the one great merit of 

458 



THE MOONSTONE 

enchaining nobody's interest, and exciting nobody's brain. 
I left Mr. Blake to the composing influence of Standard Lit- 
erature, and occupied myself in making this entry in my 
journal. 

My watch informs me that it is close on eleven o'clock, I 
must shut up these leaves once more. 

Two o'clock A.M. — The experiment has been tried. With 
what result I am now to describe. 

At eleven o'clock I rang the bell for Betteredge, and told 
Mr. Blake that he might at last prepare himself for bed. 

I looked out of window at the night. It was mild and 
rainy, resembling, in this res,pect, the night of the birthday 
— the twenty-first of June, last year. Without professing to 
believe in omens, it was -at least encouraging to find no di- 
rect nervous influences — no stormy or electric perturbations 
— in the atmosphere. Betteredge joined me at the window, 
and mysteriously put a little slip of paper into my hand. It 
contained these lines : 

"Mrs. Merridew has gone to bed, on the distinct under- 
standing that the explosion is to take place at nine to-mor- 
row morning, and that I am not to stir out of this part of 
the house until she comes and sets me free. She has no idea 
that the chief scene of the experiment is my sitting-room — 
or she would have remained in it for the whole night ! I 
am alone and very anxious. Pray let me see you measure 
out the laudanum ; I want to have something to do with it, 
even in the unimportant character of a mere looker-on. 

"R. V." 

I followed Betteredge out of the room, and told him to 
remove the medicine-chest into Miss Verinder's sitting- 
room. 

The order appeared to take him completely by surprise. 
He looked as if he suspected me of some occult medical de- 
sign on Miss Verinder! "Might I presume to ask," he said, 
"what my young lady and the medicine-chest have got to 
do with each other?" 

"Stay in the sitting-room, and you will see." 

450 



THE MOONSTONE 

Betteredge appeared to doubt his own unaided capacity 
to superintend me effectually on an occasion when a medi- 
cine-chest was included in the proceedings. 

"Is there any objection, sir," he asked, "to taking Mr. 
Bruff into this part of the business ?" 

"Quite the contrary ! I am now going to ask Mr. Bruff 
to accompany me down stairs." 

Betteredge withdrew to fetch the medicine-chest without 
another word. I went back into Mr. Blake's room, and 
knocked at the door of communication. Mr. Bruff opened 
it, with his papers in his hand — immersed in law, impene- 
trable to medicine. 

"I am sorry to disturb you," I said. "But I am going to 
prepare the laudanum for Mr. Blake and I must request you 
to be present, and to see what I do." 

"Yes?" said Mr. Bruff, with nine-tenths of his attention 
riveted on his papers, and with one-tenth unwillingly ac- 
corded to me. "Any thing else ?" 

"I must trouble you to return here with me and to see 
me administer the dose." 

"Any thing else?" 

"One thing more. I must put you to the inconvenience 
of remaining in Mr. Blake's room and of waiting to see what 
happens." 

"Oh, very good!" said Mr. Bruff. "My room or Mr. 
Blake's room — it doesn't matter which ; I can go on with my 
papers anywhere. Unless you object, Mr. Jennings, to my 
importing that amount of common sense into "the proceed- 
mgs r 

Before I could answer, Mr. Blake addressed himself to the 
lawyer, speaking from his bed. 

"Do you really mean to say that you don't feel any inter- 
est in what you are going to do?" he asked. "Mr. Bruff, 
you have no more imagination than a cow !" 

"A cow is a very useful animal, Mr. Blake," said the law- 
yer. With that reply he followed me out of the room, still 
keeping his papers in his hand. 

We found Miss Verinder, pale and agitated, restlessly 
pacing her sitting-room from end to end. At a table in a 
corner stood Betteredge, on guard over the medicine-chest. 

460 



THE MOONSTONE 

Mr. Bruff sat down on the first chair that he could find, and, 
emulating the usefulness of the cow, plunged back again 
into his papers on the spot. 

Miss Verinder drew me aside, and reverted instantly to 
her one all-absorbing interest — the interest in Mr. Blake. 

"How is he now?" she asked. "Is he nervous? is he out 
of temper? Do you think it will succeed? Are you sure 
it will do no harm?" 

"Quite sure. Come and see me measure it out." 

"One moment ! It is past eleven now. How long will it 
be before any thing happens ?" 

"It is not easy to say. An hour, perhaps." 

"I suppose the room must be dark, as it was last year?" 

"Certainly." 

"I shall wait in my bedroom — just as I did before. I 
shall keep the door a little way open. It was a little way 
open last year. I will watch the sitting-room door; and the 
moment it moves I will blow out my light. It all happened 
in that way on my birthday night. And it must all happen 
again in the same way, mustn't it ?" 

"Are you sure you can control yourself, Miss Verinder?" 

"In Jiis interests I can do any thing!" she answered, fer- 
vently. 

One look at her face told me that I could trust her. I 
addressed myself again to Mr. Bruff. 

"I must trouble you to put your papers aside for a mo- 
ment," I said. 

"Oh, certainly!" He got up with a start — as if I had dis- 
turbed him at a particularly interesting place — and followed 
me to the medicine-chest. There, deprived of the breathless 
excitement incidental to the practice of his profession, he 
looked at Betteredge and yawned wearily. 

Miss Verinder joined me with a glass jug of cold water, 
which she had taken from the side-table. "Let me pour out 
the water," she whispered. "I must have a hand in it !" 

I measured out the forty minims from the bottle, and 
poured the laudanum into a medicine-glass. "Fill it till it 
is three parts full," I said, and handed the glass to Miss Ver- 
inder. I then directed Betteredge to lock up the medicine- 
chest ; informing him that I had done with it now. A look 

461 



THE MOONSTONE 

of unutterable relief overspread the old servant's counte- 
nance. He had evidently suspected me of a medical design 
on his young lady ! 

After adding the water as I had directed, Miss Verinder 
seized a moment — while Betteredge was locking the chest, 
and while Mr. Brufif was looking back at his papers — and 
slyly kissed the rim of the medicine-glass. "When you give 
it to him," whispered the charming girl, "give it to him on 
that side !" 

I took the piece of crystal which was to represent the 
Diamond from my pocket and gave it to her. 

"You must have a hand in this, too," I said. "You must 
put it where you put the Moonstone last year." 

She led the way to the Indian cabinet, and put the mock 
Diamond into the drawer which the real Diamond occupied 
on the birthday night. Mr. Bruff witnessed this proceeding, 
under protest, as he had witnessed every thing else. But 
the strong dramatic interest which the experiment was now 
assuming proved, to my great amusement, to be too much 
for Betteredge's capacity of self-restraint. His hand trembled 
as he held the candle, and he whispered anxiously, "Are 
you sure, miss, it's the right drawer?" 

I led the way out again, with the laudanum and water in 
my hand. At the door I stopped to address a last word to 
Miss Verinder. 

"Don't be long in putting out the lights," I said. 

"I will put them out at once," she answered. "And I will 
wait in my bedroom, with only one candle aUght." 

She closed the sitting-room door behind us. Followed 
by Mr. Brufif and Betteredge, I went back to Mr. Blake's 
room. 

We found him moving restlessly from side to side of the 
bed and wondering irritably whether he was to have the 
laudanum that night. In the presence of the two witnesses 
I gave him the dose and shook up his pillows and told him 
to lie down again quietly and wait. 

His bed, provided with Hght chintz curtains, was placed, 
with the head against the wall of the room, so as to leave a 
good open space on either side of it. On one side I drew 
the curtains completely — and in the part of the room thus 

462 



THE MOONSTONE 

screened from his view I placed Mr. Bruff and Betteredge to 
wait for the result. At the bottom of the bed I half drew 
the curtains — and placed my own chair at a little distance, 
so that I might let him see me or not see me, speak to me, 
or not speak to me, just as the circumstances might direct. 
Having already been informed that he always slept with a 
light in the room, I placed one of the two lighted candles on 
a little table at the head of the bed, where the glare of the 
light would not strike on his eyes. The other candle I gave 
to Mr. Bruff; the light, in this instance, being subdued by 
the screen of the chintz curtains. The window was open at 
the top so as to ventilate the room. The rain fell softly, the 
house was quiet. It was twenty minutes past eleven, by my 
watch, when the preparations were completed, and I took my 
place on the chair set apart at the bottom of the bed. 

Mr. Bruff resumed his papers, with every appearance of 
being as deeply interested in them as ever. But looking to- 
ward him now, I saw certain signs and tokens which told me 
that the law was beginning to lose its hold on him at last. 
The suspended interest of the situation in which we were 
now placed was slowly asserting its influence even on his 
unimaginative mind. As for Betteredge, consistency of 
principle and dignity of conduct had become, in his case, 
mere empty words. He forgot that I was performing a 
conjuring trick on Mr. Franklin Blake; he forgot that I had 
upset the house from top to bottom; he forgot that I had 
not read Robinson Crusoe since I was a child. "For the 
Lord's sake, sir," he whispered to me, "tell us when it will 
begin to work." 

"Not before midnight," I whispered back. "Say nothing 
and sit still." 

Betteredge dropped to the lowest depth of familiarity 
with me, without a struggle to save himself. He answered 
me by a wink ! 

Looking next toward Mr. Blake, I found him as restless as 
ever in his bed ; fretfully wondering why the influence of 
the laudanum had not begun to assert itself yet. To tell 
him, in his present humor, that the more he fidgeted and 
wondered the longer he would delay the result for which 
we were now waiting would have been simply useless. The 

463 



THE MOONSTONE 

wiser course to take was to dismiss the idea of the opium 
from his mind by leading him insensibly to think of some- 
thing else. 

With this view I encouraged him to talk to me, contriv- 
ing so to direct the conversation, on my side, as to lead him 
back again to the subject which had engaged us earlier in 
the evening — the subject of the Diamond. I took care to 
revert to those portions of the story of the Moonstone which 
related to the transport of it from London to Yorkshire ; to 
the risk which Mr. Blake had run in removing it from the 
bank at Frizinghall ; and to the unexpected appearance of 
the Indians at the house on the evening of the birthday. 
And I purposely assumed, in referring to these events, to 
have misunderstood much of what Mr. Blake himself had 
told me a few hours since. In this way I set him talking 
on the subject with which it was now vitally important to 
fill his mind — without allowing him to suspect that I was 
making him talk for a purpose. Little by little he became 
so interested in putting me right that he forgot to fidget in 
the bed. His mind was far away from the question of the 
opium at the all-important time when his eyes first told me 
that the opium was beginning to lay its hold on his brain. 

I looked at my watch. It wanted five minutes to twelve 
when the premonitory symptoms of the working of the laud- 
anum first showed themselves to me. 

At this time no unpracticed eye would have detected any 
change in him. But, as the minutes of the new morning 
wore away, the swiftly-subtle progress of the influence be- 
gan to show itself more plainly. The sublime intoxication 
of opium gleamed in his eyes ; the dew of a stealthy perspi- 
ration began to glisten on his face. In five minutes more 
the talk which he still kept up with me failed in coherence. 
He held steadily to the subject of the Diamond; but he 
ceased to complete his sentences. A little later the sen- 
tences dropped to single words. Then there was an inter- 
val of silence. Then he sat up in bed. Then, still busy with 
the subject of the Diamond, he began to talk again — not to 
me, but to himself. That change told me that the first stage 
in the experiment was reached. The stimulant influence of 
the opium had got him. 

464 



THE MOONSTONE 

The time, now, was twenty-three minutes past twelve. 
The next half hour, at most, would decide the question of 
whether he would, or would not, get up from his bed and 
leave the room. 

In the breathless interest of watching him — in the unut- 
terable triumph of seeing the first result of the experiment 
declare itself in the manner and nearly at the time which I 
had anticipated — I had utterly forgotten the two companions 
of my night vigil. Looking toward them now, I saw the 
law, as represented by Mr. Bruff's papers, lying unheeded 
on the floor. Mr. Bruff himself was looking eagerly through 
a crevice left in the imperfectly-drawn curtains of the bed. 
And Betteredge, oblivious of all respect for social distinc- 
tions, was peeping over Mr. Bruff's shoulder. 

They both started back, on finding that I was looking at 
them, like two boys caught out by their school-master in a 
fault. I signed to them to take off their boots quietly, as I 
was taking off mine. If Mr. Blake gave us the chance of 
following him, it was vitally necessary to follow him with- 
out noise. 

Ten minutes passed — and nothing happened. Then he sud- 
denly threw the bed-clothes off him. He put one leg out of 
bed. He waited. 

"I wish I had never taken it out of the bank," he said to 
himself. "It was safe in the bank." 

My heart throbbed fast : the pulses at my temples beat 
furiously. The doubt about the safety of the Diamond was, 
once more, the dominant impression in his brain ! On that 
one pivot the whole success of the experiment turned. The 
prospect thus suddenly opened before me was too much for 
my shattered nerves. I was obliged to look away from him, 
or I should have lost my self-control. 

There was another interval of silence. 

When I could trust myself to look back at him he was 
out of his bed, standing erect at the side of it. The pupils 
of his eyes were now contracted ; his eyeballs gleamed in 
the light of the candle as he moved his head slowly to and 
fro. He was thinking; he was doubting — he spoke again. 

"How do I know?" he said. "The Indians may be hid- 
den in the house." 

30 465 



THE MOONSTONE 

He stopped, and walked slowly to the other end of the 
room. He turned — waited — came back to the bed. 

"It's not even locked up," he went on. "It's in the drawer 
of her cabinet. And the drawer doesn't lock." 

He sat down on the side of the bed. "Any body might 
take it," he said. 

He rose again restlessly and reiterated his first words. 

"How do I know? The Indians may be hidden in the 
house." 

He waited again. I drew back behind the half-curtain 
of the bed. He looked about the room, with the vacant 
glitter in his eyes. It was a breathless moment. There 
was a pause of some sort. A pause in the action of the 
opium? a pause in the action of the brain? Who could tell? 
Every thing depended, now, on what he did next. 

He laid himself down again on the bed ! 

A horrible doubt crossed my mind. Was it possible that 
the sedative action of the opium was making itself felt al- 
ready? It was not in my experience that it should do this. 
But what is experience where opium is concerned? There 
are probably no two men in existence on whom the drug 
acts in exactly the same manner. Was some constitutional 
peculiarity in him, feeling the influence in some new way? 
Were we to fail, on the very brink of success? 

No! He got up again abruptly. "How the devil am I to 
sleep," he said, "with this on my mind?" 

He looked at the light, burning on the table at the 
head of his bed. After a moment he took the candle in his 
hand. 

I blew out the second candle, burning behind the closed 
curtains. I drew back, with Mr. Bruff and Betteredge, into 
the farthest corner by'-the bed. I signed to them to be silent, 
as if their lives had depended on it. 

We waited — seeing and hearing nothing. We waited, 
hidden from him by the curtains. 

The light which he was holding on the other side of us 
moved suddenly. The next moment he passed us, swift and 
noiseless, with the candle in his hand. 

He opened the bedroom door and went out. 

We followed him along the corridor. We followed him 

466 



THE MOONSTONE 

down the stairs. We followed him along the second corri- 
dor. He never looked back ; he never hesitated. 

He opened the sitting-room door and went in, leaving it 
open behind him. 

The door was hung, like all the other doors in the house, 
on large old-fashioned hinges. When it was opened, a crev- 
ice was opened between the door and the post. I signed to 
my two companions to look through this, so as to keep them 
from showing themselves. I placed myself — outside the door 
also — on the opposite side. A recess in the wall was at my 
left hand, in which I could instantly hide myself if he showed 
any signs of looking back into the corridor. 

He advanced to the middle of the room, with the candle still 
in his hand; he looked about him, but he never looked back. 

I saw the door of Miss Verinder's bedroom standing ajar. 
She had put out her light. She controlled herself nobly. 
The dim white outline of her summer dress was all that I 
could see. Nobody who had not known it beforehand would 
have suspected that there was a living creature in the room. 
She kept back in the dark ; not a word, not a movement es- 
caped her. 

It was now ten minutes past one. I heard, through the 
dead silence, the soft drip of the rain, and the tremulous pas- 
sage of the night air through the trees. 

After waiting irresolute for a minute or more in the mid- 
dle of the room, he moved to the corner near the window, 
where the Indian cabinet stood. 

He put his candle on the top of the cabinet. He opened 
and shut one drawer after another, until he came to the 
drawer in which the mock Diamond was put. He looked 
into the drawer for a moment. Then he took the mock Dia- 
mond out with his right hand. With the other hand he 
took the candle from the top of the cabinet. 

He walked back a few steps toward the middle of the 
room, and stood still again. 

Thus far he had exactly repeated what he had done on 
the birthday night. Would his next proceeding be the 
same as the proceeding of last year? Would he leave the 
room? Would he go back now. as I believed he had gone 
back then, to his bed-chamber? Would he show us what 

467 



THE MOONSTONE 

he had done with the Diamond when he had returned to his 
own room ? 

His first action, when he moved once more, proved to be 
an action which he had not performed when he was under 
the influence of the opium for the first time. He put the 
candle down on a table, and wandered on a little toward the 
farther end of the room. There was a sofa here. He leaned 
heavily on the back of it with his left hand — then roused 
himself and returned to the middle of the room. I could 
now see his eyes. They were getting dull and heavy ; the 
glitter in them was fast dying out. 

The suspense of the moment proved too much for Miss 
Verinder's self-control. She advanced a few steps — then 
stopped again. Mr. Bruff and Betteredge looked across the 
open door-way at me for the first time. The prevision of a 
coming disappointment was impressing itself on their minds 
as well as on mine. 

Still, so long as he stood where he was, there was hope. 
We waited, in unutterable expectation, to see what would 
happen next. 

The next event was decisive. He let the mock Diamond 
drop out of his hand. 

It fell on the floor before the door-way — plainly visible to 
him and to every one. He made no effort to pick it up : he 
looked down at it vacantly, and, as he looked, his head sank 
on his breast. He staggered ; roused himself for an instant ; 
walked back unsteadily to the sofa and sat down on it. He 
made a last effort ; he tried to rise, and sank back. His 
head fell on the sofa cushions. It was then twenty-five min- 
utes past one o'clock. Before I had put my watch back in 
my pocket he was asleep. 

It was all over now. The sedative influence had got him ; 
the experiment was at an end. 

I ENTERED the room, telling Mr. Bruff and Betteredge that 
they might follow me. There was no fear of disturbing 
him. We were free to move and speak. 

"The first thing to settle," I said, "is the question of what 
we are to do with him. He will probably sleep for the next 
six or seven hours at least. It is some distance to carry 

468 



THE MOONSTONE 

him back to his own room. When I was younger I could 
have done it alone. But my health and strength are not 
what they were — I am afraid I must ask you to help me." 

Before they could answer Miss Verinder called to me softly. 
She met me at the door of her room with a light shawl and 
with the counterpane from her own bed. 

"Do you mean to watch him while he sleeps?" she asked. 

"Yes. I am not sure enough of the action of the opium, 
in his case, to be willing to leave him alone." 

She handed me the shawl and the counterpane. 

"Why should you disturb him?" she whispered. "Make 
his bed on the sofa. I can shut my door and keep in my 
room." 

It was infinitely the simplest and the safest way of dis- 
posing of him for the night. I mentioned the suggestion to 
Mr. Bruff and Betteredge, who both approved of my adopt- 
ing it. In five minutes I had laid him comfortably on the 
sofa, and had covered him lightly with the counterpane and 
the shawl. Miss Verinder wished us good-night, and closed 
the door. At my request we three then drew round the ta- 
ble in the middle of the room, on which the candle was still 
burning, and on which writing materials were placed. 

"Before we separate," I began, "I have a word to say 
about the experiment which has been tried to-night. Two 
distinct objects were to be gained by it. The first of these 
objects was to prove that Mr. Blake entered this room and 
took the Diamond last year, acting unconsciously and irre- 
sponsibly, under the influence of opium. After what you 
have both seen, are you both satisfied, so far?" 

They answered me in the affirmative, without a moment's 
hesitation. 

"The second object," I went on, "was to discover what he 
did with the Diamond after he was seen by Miss Verinder 
to leave her sitting-room with the jewel in his hand on the 
birthday night. The gaining of this object depended, of 
course, on his still continuing exactly to repeat his proceed- 
ings of last year. He has failed to do that; and the pur- 
pose of the experiment is defeated accordingly. I can't 
assert that I am not disappointed at the result — but I can hon- 
estly say that I am not surprised by it. I told Mr. Blake 

460 



THE MOONSTONE 

from the first that our complete success in this matter de- 
pended on our completely reproducing in him the physical 
and moral conditions of last year and I warned him that 
this was the next thing to a downright impossibility. We 
have only partially reproduced the conditions and the ex- 
periment has been only partially successful in consequence. 
It is also possible that I may have administered too large a 
dose of laudanum. But I myself look upon the first reason 
that I have given as the true reason why we have to lament 
a failure, as well as to rejoice over a success." 

After saying those words I put the writing materials be- 
fore Mr. Bruff and asked him if he had any objection — be- 
fore we separated for the night — to draw out and sign a 
plain statement of what he had seen. He at once took the 
pen and produced the statement with the fluent readiness 
of a practiced hand. 

"I owe you this," he said, signing the paper, "as some 
atonement for what passed between us earlier in the even- 
ing. I beg your pardon, Mr. Jennings, for having doubted 
you. You have done Franklin Blake an inestimable service. 
In our legal phrase, you have proved your case." 

Betteredge's apology was characteristic of the man. 

"Mr. Jennings," he said, "when you read Robinson Cru- 
soe again, which I strongly recommend you to do, you will 
find that he never scruples to acknowledge it when he turns 
out to have been in the wrong. Please to consider me, sir, 
as doing what Robinson Crusoe did on the present occasion." 
With those words he signed the paper in his turn. 

Mr. Brufif took me aside as we rose from the table. 

"One word about the Diamond," he said. "Your theory 
is that Franklin Blake hid the Moonstone in his room. My 
theory is that the Moonstone is in the possession of Mr. 
Luker's bankers in London. We won't dispute which of us 
is right. We will only ask, which of us is in a position to 
put his theory to the test first?" 

"The test, in my case," I answered, "has been tried to-night 
and has failed." 

"The test, in my case," rejoined Mr. Bruff, "is still in pro- 
cess of trial. For the last two days I have had a watch set 
for Mr. Luker at the bank and I shall cause that watch to 

470 



THE MOONSTONE 

be continued until the last day of the month. I know that 
he must take the Diamond himself out of his bankers' hands 
— and I am acting on the chance that the person who has 
pledged the Diamond may force him to do this by redeem- 
ing the pledge. In that case I may be able to lay my hand 
on the person. And there is a prospect of our clearing up 
the mystery, exactly at the point where the mystery baffles 
us now! Do you admit that, so far?" 

I admitted it readily. 

"I am going back to town by the ten o'clock train," pur- 
sued the lawyer, "I may hear, when I get back, that a dis- 
covery has been made — and it may be of the greatest impor- 
tance that I should have Franklin Blake at hand to appeal 
to if necessary. I intend to tell him, as soon as he wakes, 
that he must return with me to London. After all that has 
happened, may I trust to your influence to back me?" 

"Certainly !" I said. 

Mr. Bruff shook hands with me and left the room. Bet- 
teredge followed him out. 

I WENT to the sofa to look at Mr. Blake. He had not 
moved since I had laid him down and made his bed — he lay 
locked in a deep and quiet sleep. 

While I was still looking at him I heard the bedroom 
door softly opened. Once more Miss Verinder appeared on 
the threshold in her pretty summer dress. 

"Do me a last favor," she whispered. "Let me watch 
him with you." 

I hesitated — not in the interests of propriety ; only in the 
interest of her night's rest. She came close to me and took 
my hand. 

"I can't sleep; I can't even sit still in my own room," she 
said. "Oh, Mr. Jennings, if you were me, only think how 
you would long to sit and look at him ! Say yes ! Do !" 

Is it necessary to mention that I gave way ? Surely not ! 

She drew a chair to the foot of the sofa. She looked at 
him in a silent ecstasy of happiness till the tears rose in her 
eyes. She dried her eyes and said she would fetch her 
work. She fetched her work, and never did a single stitch 
of it. It lay in her lap — she was not even able to look away 

471 



THE MOONSTONE 

from him long enough to thread her needle. I thought of 
my own youth ; I thought of the gentle eyes which had once 
looked love at me. In the heaviness of my heart I turned 
to my journal for relief and wrote in it what is written here. 

So we kept our watch together in silence. One of us ab- 
sorbed in his writing; the other absorbed in her love. 

Hour after hour he lay in his deep sleep. The light of the 
new day grew and grew in the room, and still he never 
moved. 

Toward six o'clock I felt the warning which told me that 
my pains were coming back. I was obliged to leave her 
alone with him for a little while. I said I would go up 
stairs and fetch another pillow for him out of his room. It 
was not a long attack this time. In a little while I was 
able to venture back and let her see me again. 

I found her at the head of the sofa when I returned. She 

was just touching his forehead with her lips. I shook my 

head as soberly as I could and pointed to her chair. She 

looked back at me with a bright smile and a charming color 

in her face. "You would have done it," she whispered, "in 

my place !" 

****** 

It is just eight o'clock. He is beginning to move for the 
first time. 

Miss Verinder is kneeling by the side of the sofa. She 
has so placed herself that when his eyes first open they must 
open on her face. 

Shall I leave them together? 

Yes! 

****** 

Eleven o'clock. — They have arranged it among themselves ; 
they have all gone to London by the ten o'clock train. My 
brief dream of happiness is over. I have awakened again to 
the realities of my friendless and lonely life. 

I dare not trust myself to write down the kind words that 
have been said to me, especially by Miss Verinder and Mr. 
Blake. Besides, it is needless. Those words will come back 
to me in my solitary hours and will help me through what 
is left of the end of my life. Mr. Blake is to write, and tell 
me what happens in London. i\Iiss Verinder is to return to 



THE MOONSTONE 

Yorkshire in the autumn, for her marriage, no doubt ; and I 
am to take a hoHday and be a guest in the house. Oh me, 
how I felt it, as the grateful happiness looked at me out of her 
eyes and the warm pressure of her hand said, "This is your 
doing !" 

My poor patients are waiting for me. Back again, this 
morning, to the old routine ! Back again to-night, to the 
dreadful alternative between the opium and the pain ! 

God be praised for his mercy ! I have seen a little sunshine 
— I have had a happy time. 



FIFTH NARRATIVE 

The Story resumed by Frankliti Blake. 



CHAPTER I. 



BUT few words are needed, on my part, to complete the 
narrative that has been presented in the Journal of Ezra 
Jennings. 

Of myself, I have only to say that I awoke on the morning 
of the twenty-sixth, perfectly ignorant of all that I had said 
and done under the influence of the opium — from the time 
when the drug first laid its hold on me, to the time when I 
opened my eyes on the sofa in Rachel's sitting-room. 

Of what happened after my waking, I do not feel called 
upon to render an account in detail. Confining myself 
merely to results, I have to report that Rachel and I thor- 
oughly understood each other before a single word of expla- 
nation had passed on either side. I decline to account, and 
Rachel declines to account, for the extraordinary rapidity of 
our reconciliation. Sir and Madam, look back to the time 
when you were passionately attached to each other — and you 
will know what happened, after Ezra Jennings had shut the 
door of the sitting-room, as well as I know it myself. 

I have, however, no objection to add, that wc should have 

473 



THE MOONSTONE 

been certainly discovered by Mrs. Merridew but for Rachel's 
presence of mind. She heard the sound of the old lady's 
dress in the corridor, and instantly ran out to meet her. I 
heard Mrs. Merridew say, "What is the matter?" and I heard 
Rachel answer, "The explosion !" Mrs. Merridew instantly 
permitted herself to be taken by the arm and led into the 
garden, out of the way of the impending shock. On her re- 
turn to the house she met me in the hall and expressed her- 
self as greatly struck by the vast improvement in Science 
since the time when she was a girl at school. "Explosions, 
Mr. Blake, are infinitely milder than they were. I assure 
you, I barely heard Mr. Jennings's explosion from the gar- 
den. And no smell afterward, that I can detect, now we 
have come back to the house ! I must really apologize to 
your medical friend. It is only due to him to say that he 
has managed it beautifully !" 

So, after vanquishing Betteredge and Mr. Bruff, Ezra Jen- 
nings vanquished Mrs. Merridew herself. There is a great 
deal of undeveloped liberal feeling in the world, after all ! 

At breakfast Mr. Bruff made no secret of his reasons for 
wishing that I should accompany him to London by the morn- 
ing train. The watch kept at the bank and the result which 
might yet come of it, appealed so irresistibly to Rachel's cu- 
riosity that she at once decided, if Mrs. Merridew had no ob- 
jection, on accompanying us back to town — so as to be within 
reach of the earliest news of our proceedings. 

Mrs. Merridew proved to be all pliability and indulgence, 
after the truly considerate manner in which the explosion 
had conducted itself and Betteredge was accordingly in- 
formed that we were all four to travel back together by the 
morning train. I fully expected that he would have asked 
leave to accompany us. But Rachel had wisely provided 
her faithful old servant with an occupation that interested 
him. He was charged with completing the refurnishing of 
the house, and was too full of his domestic responsibilities 
to feel the "detective-fever" as he might have felt it under 
other circumstances. 

Our one subject of regret, in going to London, was the 
necessity of parting, more abruptl}^ than we could have 
wished, with Ezra Jennings. It was impossible to persuade 

474 



THE MOONSTONE 

him to accompany us. I could only promise to write to him 
and Rachel could only insist on his coming to see her when 
she returned to Yorkshire. There was every prospect of our 
meeting again in a few months ; and yet there was something 
very sad in seeing our best and dearest friend left standing 
alone on the platform as the train moved out of the station. 

On our arrival in London, Ivlr. Bruff was accosted at the 
terminus by a small boy, dressed in a jacket and trousers 
of threadbare black cloth, and personally remarkable in vir- 
tue of the extraordinary prominence of his eyes. They pro- 
jected so far and they rolled about so loosely that you 
wondered uneasily why they remained in their sockets. Af- 
ter listening to the boy, Mr. Bruff asked the ladies whether 
they would excuse our accompanying them back to Port- 
land Place. I had barely time to promise Rachel that I 
would return, and tell her every thing that had happened, 
before Mr. Bruff seized me by the arm and hurried me into 
a cab. The boy with the ill-secured eyes took his place on 
the box by the driver and the driver was directed to go to 
Lombard Street. 

"News from the bank?" I asked, as we started. 

"News of Mr. Luker," said Mr. Bruff. "An hour ago he 
was seen to leave his house at Lambeth in a cab, accompa- 
nied by two men, who were recognized by my men as po- 
lice officers in plain clothes. If Mr. Luker's dread of the In- 
dians is at the bottom of this precaution, the inference is 
plain enough. He is going to take the Diamond out of the 
bank." 

"And we are going to the bank to see what comes of it?" 

"Yes — or to hear what has come of it, if it is all over by 
this time. Did you notice my boy — on the box there ?" 

"I noticed his eyes !" 

Mr. Bruff laughed. "They call the poor little wretch 
'Gooseberry' at the office," he said. "I employ him to go 
on errands — and I only wish my clerks who have nicknamed 
him were as thoroughly to be depended on as he is. Goose- 
b