Part 2 out of 12
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
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 woke up from a dream.
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 question at an awkward time,
and depend on the natural sweetness of women for kissing and
making it up again at the next opportunity.
The afternoon wore on, and my lady and Miss 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 housemaid,
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 colours of
the rainbow. She had been merry without reason, and sad without reason.
In one breath she asked hundreds of questions about Mr. Franklin 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 workbox. She had been surprised again, crying and looking
at her deformed shoulder in the glass. Had she and Mr. Franklin known
anything of each other before to-day? Quite impossible! Had they heard
anything of each other? Impossible 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 questions about Mr. Franklin. The conference between us,
conducted in this way, was tiresome enough, until my daughter suddenly ended
it by bursting out with what I thought the most monstrous supposition I
had ever heard in my life.
"Father!" says Penelope, quite seriously, "there's only one explanation
of it. Rosanna has 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 housemaid out of a reformatory,
with a plain face and a deformed shoulder, falling in love, at first sight,
with a gentleman 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 upon 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
How the meeting between Mr. Franklin and his aunt and cousin went off,
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, without 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 respectful 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 singing 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 it 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 Diamond 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 endeavoured to lead the conversation to more
Towards midnight, I went round the house to lock up, accompanied by my
second in command (Samuel, the footman), as usual. When all the 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
Being old and sly, I forbore to call out; but being also, unfortunately,
old and heavy, my feet betrayed me on the 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 I 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 premises.
As it was, I went back to set a-going a younger pair of legs than mine.
Without disturbing anybody, 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 lurking 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 it
was a small bottle, containing a thick sweet-smelling liquor, as black as
I said nothing to Samuel. But, remembering what Penelope 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 discovering the whereabouts of the Diamond
Here, for one moment, I find it necessary to call a halt.
On summoning up my own recollections--and on getting 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 by day, once more, as soon as we get to the time
when the business of the Moonstone became the chief business of everybody
in our house.
This said, we may now go on again--beginning, of course,
with the bottle of sweet-smelling 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
practise 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 Diamond here; and they brought their clairvoyant
boy to show them the way to it, if they succeeded in getting into the house
"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 remained in and about the town plying their trade;
and Mr. Franklin 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
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 something--
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 mistress, poring over
one of their spiders' insides with a magnifying-glass;
or you meet one of their frogs walking downstairs 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 colour 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 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 everybody's stomach 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 photography, and doing justice without mercy
on everybody'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 MUST
As for Mr. Franklin and Miss Rachel, they tortured nothing, I am glad to say.
They simply confined themselves to making a mess; and all they spoilt, to do
them justice, was the panelling of a door.
Mr. Franklin's universal genius, dabbling in everything,
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.
Mr. Franklin scraped off 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 from designs made
by a famous Italian painter, whose name escapes me:
the one, I mean, who stocked the world with Virgin Maries,
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
The next date worthy of notice is Sunday the fourth of June.
On that evening we, in the servants' hall, debated a domestic
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 which 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 Mr. 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 honour of making you acquainted with her;
after which, I will leave you to fathom for 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 prejudice in favour 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 sit down, to see her get up,
and specially 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 complexion
(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, thoroughbred 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
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,
possessing a host of graces and attractions, had one defect,
which strict impartiality compels me to acknowledge.
She was unlike most other girls of her age, in this--that she had
ideas of her own, and was stiff-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 anybody, from her
mother downwards. In little things and great, with people
she loved, and 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 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--
Add one thing more to this, and I have done.
With all her secrecy, and self-will, there was not so much as the shadow
of anything 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 little 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 afterwards.
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 notwithstanding,
she never told you. Self-willed--devilish self-willed sometimes--I grant;
but the finest creature, nevertheless, 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
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
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. Godfrey 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 afterwards,
on the neck or nothing principle, made what they call a misalliance.
There was terrible work in the family when the Honourable Caroline
insisted on marrying plain Mr. Ablewhite, the banker at Frizinghall.
He was very rich and very respectable, and he begot a prodigious
large family--all in his favour, so far. But he had presumed
to raise himself from a low station in the world--and that was
against him. However, Time and the progress of modern enlightenment
put things right; and the mis-alliance passed muster very well.
We are all getting liberal now; and (provided 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 neighbourhood.
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
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 colour; 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
destitution 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 sitting 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 philanthropist
(on a small independence) that England ever produced.
As a speaker at charitable meetings the like of him for
drawing your tears and your money was not easy to find.
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 performance 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 everybody. And everybody loved HIM.
What chance had Mr. Franklin--what chance had anybody
of average reputation and capacities--against such a man as
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 enclosed 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
you 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 favour 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 could cause here
a moment's annoyance; he would fight it out resolutely,
and get back his sleep, sooner or later, by main force of
patience in waiting for it. Such devotion as this, you may say
(as some of them said downstairs), 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 bed-room;
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 the 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
June the sixteenth brought an event which made Mr. Franklin'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
(when the gentleman had gone, as I suppose) to my lady.
She probably hinted something about it next to her daughter.
At any rate, Miss Rachel was reported to have said some
severe things to Mr. Franklin, 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 towards 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 guesswork. In this case,
not only Mr. Franklin, but my lady too, for a wonder, left me in
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 signs and tokens which I need not trouble you with)
that her young mistress had fought Mr. Franklin off by declining
to believe that he was in earnest, and had then secretly regretted
treating him in that way afterwards. 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 anybody 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 housemaid, 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 be just as absurd as ever. But I must own that what I
myself saw, and what my daughter saw also, of our second
housemaid's conduct, began to look mysterious, to say the least
For example, the girl constantly put herself in Mr. Franklin'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 dreadfully;
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 removing
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
over-respectful now, on the few occasions when Miss Rachel accidentally spoke
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
On the twentieth, there came a note from Mr. Godfrey. He had arranged to stop
at Frizinghall that night, having occasion 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. Franklin 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.
June twenty-first, the day of the birthday, was cloudy and unsettled
at sunrise, but towards noon it cleared up bravely.
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 conference 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
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 a we knew them.
Nothing had happened to justify us in alarming my lady on the subject
of the jewel; and nothing could alter the legal obligation that
now lay on Mr. Franklin to put it in his cousin's possession.
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. Godfrey and the two
young ladies, in all probability, to keep him company on the way
This settled, our young gentleman went back to Miss Rachel.
They consumed the whole morning, and part of the afternoon,
in the everlasting business of decorating the door,
Penelope standing by to mix the colours, 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 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 Penelope
(much the 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 towards the vehicle. No! no! It left off stinking
when it dried; and if Art requires these sort of sacrifices--
though the girl is my own daughter--I say, let Art
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
This being one of the high festivals on which I took my place
at the side-board, 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 comprising 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 Betteredge wearing so well. But there was a sort
of cloud over him, which I couldn't at all account for; and when I asked
how he had found his father in health, he answered rather shortly,
"Much as usual." However, the two Miss Ablewhites 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
super-abundant 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.
Everything the Miss Ablewhites said began with a large O; everything 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
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 anything 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
Crossing the hall, about half an hour afterwards, I was brought
to a sudden standstill by an outbreak of screams from the small
drawing-room. I can't say I was at all alarmed; for I recognised
in the screams the favourite large O of the Miss Ablewhites.
However, I went in (on pretence of asking for instructions about
the dinner) to discover whether anything serious had really happened.
There stood Miss Rachel at the table, like a person fascinated,
with the Colonel's unlucky Diamond in her hand. There, on either side
of her, knelt the two Bouncers, devouring 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! exquisite!"
There sat Mr. Franklin in a chair by the book-case, tugging at his beard,
and looking anxiously towards the window. And there, at the window,
stood the object he was contemplating--my lady, having the extract from
the Colonel's Will in her hand, and keeping her back turned on the whole of
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. "I 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 character, 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
sunlight that poured through the window.
Lord bless us! it WAS a Diamond! As large, or nearly, as a plover's egg!
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 unfathomable; 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 Diamond 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 of his sister's waists, and, looking
compassionately backwards and forwards between the Diamond
and me, said, "Carbon Betteredge! mere carbon, my good friend,
His object, I suppose, was to instruct me. All he did, however, was to
remind me of the dinner. I hobbled off to my army of waiters downstairs.
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 honoured 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 difference, 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 dismissal, 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 anything 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 meaning
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 pretence of brushing what little hair I have got left,
and improving the tie of my white cravat. My girl was in high spirits,
and I saw she had something to say to me. She gave me a kiss on the top
of my bald head, and whispered, "News for you, father! Miss Rachel has
"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 protested 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 sacrificed me. If you are not,
skip this bit, and thank God you have got something in the way of a defence
between your hair-brush and your head.
"Just on the other side of the holly," Penelope went on,
"Mr. Godfrey came to a standstill. '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 I 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 put
out in your life. 'Awkward!' he said between his teeth,
when he looked up, and went on to the house--'very awkward!'
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
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
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 off. 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 announce the two first of the guests.
You needn't feel particularly interested about them. Only the
philanthropist's father and mother--Mr. and Mrs. Ablewhite.
One on the top of the other the rest of the company followed
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 Frizinghall
(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
towards which everybody'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;
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.
Everybody wondered at the prodigious size and beauty of the Diamond,
as a matter of course. But the only two of the company who said
anything out of the common way about it were those two guests
I have mentioned, who sat by Miss Rachel on her right hand and
The guest on her left was Mr. Candy, our doctor at Frizinghall.
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 his 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 together.
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 carefully 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--puff!--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 careworn 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 traveller,
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 rumoured that he was tired
of the humdrum life among the people in 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 only 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 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,
"O! how interesting!" My lady fidgeted in her chair, and changed
As the dinner got on, I became aware, little by little,
that this festival was not prospering as other like festivals
had prospered before it.
Looking back at the birthday now, by the light of what happened afterwards,
I am half inclined to think that the cursed Diamond must have cast
a blight on the whole company. 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 were 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 which he went on,
and you will understand what I had to put up with at the sideboard,
officiating as I was in the character 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. Talking of her deceased
husband perpetually, this good lady never mentioned to strangers
that he WAS 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, somebody 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 favourite 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
"They have got some remarkably fine skeletons lately at the College
of Surgeons," says Mr. Candy, across the table, in a loud cheerful voice.
"I strongly recommend the Professor, 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."
Unluckily 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. 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 mentioning
his present address."
"His present address, sir, is THE GRAVE," says Mrs. Threadgall,
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 himself
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
(a member of our family) who sat next to him. She was
one of his committee-women--a spiritually-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 disputing on serious subjects. Religion (I understand
Mr. Godfrey 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 quarrelled, with all the men in
attendance on them as ministering angels. Beautiful! beautiful!
But why the mischief did Mr. Godfrey keep it all to his lady
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 informed 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-humoured little Mr. Candy in
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 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 defence
of his profession, that my lady was obliged to interfere,
and forbid the dispute to go on. This necessary act of authority
put the last extinguisher on the spirits of the company. 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 everybody 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. Ablewhite
(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 skyrockets,
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 salaams; and the Bouncers were kissing the pretty
Mr. Franklin got on one side of Miss Rachel, and I put myself behind her.
If our suspicions were right, there she 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 traveller, Mr. Murthwaite.
Skirting the half-circle in which the gentlefolks 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 a more tigerish quickness than they did,
on hearing the first words that passed his lips. The next moment they
were bowing and salaaming 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 approached.
The chief Indian, who acted as interpreter, thereupon wheeled about again
towards the gentlefolks. I noticed that the fellow's coffee-coloured
face had turned grey 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
"O!" directed against Mr. Murthwaite for stopping the performance.
The chief Indian laid his hand humbly on his breast, and said a 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
Going back by way of the shrubbery, I smelt 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 traveller,
"is Gabriel Betteredge, the old servant and friend of our family
of whom I spoke to you just now. Tell him, if you please, what you
have just told me."
Mr. Murthwaite 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 traveller 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 Brahmins.
I charged them with being disguised, and you saw 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 jugglers.
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
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 character,
broke the silence as follows:
"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
With this preface, he told the Indian traveller 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.
"Now," says Mr. Franklin, when he had done, "what does your experience say?"
"My experience," answered the traveller, "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. How you have escaped
them I can't imagine," says the eminent traveller, lighting his
cheroot again, and staring hard at Mr. Franklin. "You have been
carrying the Diamond backwards and forwards, 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?"
"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 anybody was prepared for seeing me in
"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 civilised limits, Mr. Blake,
let me know, and I will go with you. You are a lucky man."
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 traveller.
"Do you care much for the ashes left in your pipe when you empty it?"
"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 all."
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
"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
"What about to-night, sir?" I asked. "Suppose the Indians come back?"
Mr. Murthwaite answered me before Mr. 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 anything--
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. Murthwaite, "let the dogs loose.
Have you got any big dogs in the yard?"
"Two, sir. A mastiff and a bloodhound."
"They will do. In the present emergency, Mr. Betteredge,
the mastiff and the bloodhound 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, droning 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 traveller--
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;
I ended in a different way. I lit my pipe, and took a turn at
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 Burthen 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.
I was far on with my second pipe, and still lost in admiration 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 "O," 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
traveller asleep in a corner. She had overheard 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 appeasing 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
Everything wears off in this world; and even the comforting
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 bloodhound 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
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 waterproof.
So he drove away in the rain, laughing 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.
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, looking dead tired; the talking
on this birthday occasion had, I suppose, been too much
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 humour
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 her dressing-table, of course, along with
her other things." Then she remembered that the Diamond
might take to shining of itself, with its awful moony light
in the dark--and that would terrify her 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 productions to admire each other.
Having let her little flow of nonsense 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!" cried Miss Rachel, "is this an 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 ME keep the Diamond for you to-night?"
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 morning,"
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
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 standing 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 humour, shifting about everything, had shifted about the
"Betteredge," he said, "I'm half inclined to think I took Mr. Murthwaite
too seriously, when we had that talk in the shrubbery. I wonder whether
he has been trying any of his traveller'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. Godfrey,
walking towards us from the other end of the hall, backed me.
He pressed Mr. Franklin, in the friendliest manner, 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-and-water 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 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 perfect sop.
Samuel and I went all over the house, and shut up as usual.
I examined everything 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
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 up the dogs
again, when I heard a sudden whisking of petticoats on the stairs behind 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 our young lady's sitting-room, which opened into
her bedroom. There, on the threshold of her bedroom door, stood Miss Rachel,
almost as white in the face as the white dressinggown 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
"Is this true, miss?" I asked.
With a look that was not like herself, with a voice that 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
Before we knew which way to turn next, my lady came in, hearing my
voice in her daughter's sittingroom, and wondering 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 here 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 his turn.
For a wonder, he had had a good night's rest at last;
and the unaccustomed luxury of sleep had, as he said himself,
apparently stupefied him. However, when he had swallowed
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 over night. He next proposed
to his cousin and to me to make quite sure, before we took any further steps,
that the Diamond had not accidentally dropped somewhere 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 extending our inquiries to Miss Rachel,
and sent Penelope to knock at her bed-room door.
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 speaking 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.
"I 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. Franklin 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 Frizinghall--
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 unnecessary 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 unwillingly. 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 off 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 suspected, of course, as shrewdly
as he did) could possibly have got into the house.
"One of them might have slipped into the hall, in the confusion,
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 Diamond 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 and 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
We had our breakfasts--whatever happens in a house, robbery or murder,
it doesn't matter, you must have your breakfast. 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 a 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
It was certainly strange. Taking toys and trinkets in general,
Miss Rachel was nothing like so mad after them as most young girls.
Yet there she was, still locked up inconsolably 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 professionally 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 experience
of women in distress could do towards comforting Miss Rachel,
he wandered hither and thither about the house and gardens in an
aimless uneasy way. He was in two different 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 ultimately 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 circumstances,
showed himself of weaker metal than I had thought him to be.
As for the women-servants excepting Rosanna Spearman, who kept by herself--
they took to whispering together in corners, and staring at nothing
suspiciously, as is the manner of that weaker half of the human family,
when anything extraordinary happens in a house. I myself acknowledge
to have been fidgety and ill-tempered. The cursed Moonstone had
turned us all upside down.
A little before eleven Mr. Franklin came back. The resolute
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 would follow me in a fly.
Superintendent Seegrave, of your local police force, and two of his men.
A mere form! The case is hopeless."
"What! have the Indians escaped, sir?" I asked.
"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 between 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 favour 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 discoveries affecting the jugglers might be made,
he would contrive, 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 forget 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 Indians
were "committed" for a week, as soon as the court opened that
Such was Mr. Franklin's narrative of events at Frizinghall.
The Indian clue to the mystery of the lost jewel was now,
to all appearance, a clue that had broken in our hands.
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.
"I'm the man you want!" was written all over his face; and he ordered
his two inferior police men 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 boudoir, 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 comers, 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 looking equally guilty,
summoned him to say which of them he suspected, 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 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 examination
of the room, and, making nothing of it, asked me who had first
discovered the robbery. My daughter had first discovered 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.
"I've 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 bed-room 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
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 policeman--
I can't see anybody." Our experienced officer 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 downstairs again,
and were met by Mr. Godfrey and Mr. Franklin crossing
The two gentlemen, being inmates of the house, were summoned to say if they
could throw any light on the matter. Neither of them knew anything 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 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. Superintendent Seegrave
is an ass." Released in his turn, Mr. Godfrey 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 bed-room was suddenly opened. After having
denied herself to everybody, 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?"
"He wished to speak to me, didn't he?"
"Where is he now?"
Hearing voices on the terrace below, I looked out of window,
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. Superintendent,
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 gentlemen outside.
She went up to Mr. Franklin without appearing to notice
Mr. Godfrey, who thereupon drew back and left them by themselves.
What she said to Mr. Franklin appeared to be spoken vehemently.
It lasted but for a short time, and, judging by what I saw
of his face from the window, seemed to astonish him beyond
all power of expression. While they were still together,
my lady appeared on the terrace. 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
bed-room, wild and angry, with fierce eyes and flaming cheeks.
Mr. Superintendent once more attempted to question her.
She turned round on him at her bed-room door.
"I have not sent for you!" she cried out vehemently.
"I don't want you. My Diamond is lost. Neither you nor
anybody else will ever find it! With those words she went in,
and locked the door in our faces. Penelope, standing nearest
to it, heard her burst out crying the moment she was alone
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 honour of the family,
it distressed me to see my young lady forget herself--even with
a police-officer--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
bed-room 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 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 anybody in the house. Mr. Franklin appeared to think
it a point of honour 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 influence failed to extract from her a word more