Part 5 out of 12
"You may rely on two things," she said to Sergeant Cuff, in the hall.
"I will try the experiment on Miss Verinder as boldly as you
could try it yourself. And I will inform you of the result,
either personally or by letter, before the last train leaves for London
With that, she stepped into the chaise, and, taking the reins herself,
drove off to Frizinghall.
My mistress having left us, I had leisure to think of Sergeant Cuff.
I found him sitting in a snug corner of the hall, consulting his
memorandum book, and curling up viciously at the corners of the lips.
"Making notes of the case? " I asked.
"No," said the Sergeant. "Looking to see what my next professional
"Oh!" I said. "You think it's all over then, here?"
"I think," answered Sergeant Cuff, "that Lady Verinder is one
of the cleverest women in England. I also think a rose much
better worth looking at than a diamond. Where is the gardener,
There was no getting a word more out of him on the matter of the Moonstone.
He had lost all interest in his own inquiry; and he would persist in looking
for the gardener. An hour afterwards, I heard them at high words in
the conservatory, with the dog-rose once more at the bottom of the dispute.
In the meantime, it was my business to find out whether Mr. Franklin
persisted in his resolution to leave us by the afternoon train.
After having been informed of the conference in my lady's room,
and of how it had ended, he immediately decided on waiting to hear
the news from Frizinghall. This very natural alteration in his plans--
which, with ordinary people, would have led to nothing in particular--
proved, in Mr. Franklin's case, to have one objectionable result.
It left him unsettled, with a legacy of idle time on his hands, and,
in so doing, it let out all the foreign sides of his character,
one on the top of another, like rats out of a bag.
Now as an Italian-Englishman, now as a German-Englishman, and now
as a French-Englishman, he drifted in and out of all the sitting-rooms
in the house, with nothing to talk of but Miss Rachel's treatment of him;
and with nobody to address himself to but me. I found him (for example)
in the library, sitting under the map of Modern Italy, and quite
unaware of any other method of meeting his troubles, except the method
of talking about them. "I have several worthy aspirations, Betteredge;
but what am I to do with them now? I am full of dormant good qualities,
if Rachel would only have helped me to bring them out!" He was so eloquent
in drawing the picture of his own neglected merits, and so pathetic
in lamenting over it when it was done, that I felt quite at my wits'
end how to console him, when it suddenly occurred to me that here was
a case for the wholesome application of a bit of ROBINSON CRUSOE.
I hobbled out to my own room, and hobbled back with that immortal book.
Nobody in the library! The map of Modern Italy stared at ME; and I stared
at the map of Modern Italy.
I tried the drawing-room. There was his handkerchief on the floor,
to prove that he had drifted in. And there was the empty room
to prove that he had drifted out again.
I tried the dining-room, and discovered Samuel with a biscuit
and a glass of sherry, silently investigating the empty air.
A minute since, Mr. Franklin had rung furiously for a little
light refreshment. On its production, in a violent hurry,
by Samuel, Mr. Franklin had vanished before the bell
downstairs had quite done ringing with the pull he had given
I tried the morning-room, and found him at last. There he was at the window,
drawing hieroglyphics with his finger in the damp on the glass.
"Your sherry is waiting for you, sir," I said to him.
I might as well have addressed myself to one of the four
walls of the room; he was down in the bottomless deep of his
own meditations, past all pulling up. "How do YOU explain
Rachel's conduct, Betteredge?" was the only answer I received.
Not being ready with the needful reply, I produced ROBINSON CRUSOE,
in which I am firmly persuaded some explanation might have
been found, if we had only searched long enough for it.
Mr. Franklin shut up ROBINSON CRUSOE, and floundered into his
German-English gibberish on the spot. "Why not look into it?"
he said, as if I had personally objected to looking into it.
"Why the devil lose your patience, Betteredge, when patience is
all that's wanted to arrive at the truth? Don't interrupt me.
Rachel's conduct is perfectly intelligible, if you will only
do her the common justice to take the Objective view first.
and the Subjective view next, and the Objective-Subjective
view to wind up with. What do we know? We know that the loss
of the Moonstone, on Thursday morning last, threw her into a state
of nervous excitement, from which she has not recovered yet.
Do you mean to deny the Objective view, so far? Very well, then--
don't interrupt me. Now, being in a state of nervous excitement,
how are we to expect that she should behave as she might
otherwise have behaved to any of the people about her?
Arguing in this way, from within-outwards, what do we reach?
We reach the Subjective view. I defy you to controvert
the Subjective view. Very well then--what follows?
Good Heavens! the Objective-Subjective explanation follows,
of course! Rachel, properly speaking, is not Rachel,
but Somebody Else. Do I mind being cruelly treated by Somebody Else?
You are unreasonable enough, Betteredge; but you can
hardly accuse me of that. Then how does it end? It ends,
in spite of your confounded English narrowness and prejudice,
in my being perfectly happy and comfortable. Where's the
My head was by this time in such a condition, that I was not quite sure
whether it was my own head, or Mr. Franklin's. In this deplorable state,
I contrived to do, what I take to have been, three Objective things.
I got Mr. Franklin his sherry; I retired to my own room; and I solaced
myself with the most composing pipe of tobacco I ever remember to have
smoked in my life.
Don't suppose, however, that I was quit of Mr. Franklin on such
easy terms as these. Drifting again, out of the morning-room
into the hall, he found his way to the offices next, smelt my pipe,
and was instantly reminded that he had been simple enough to give
up smoking for Miss Rachel's sake. In the twinkling of an eye,
he burst in on me with his cigar-case, and came out strong on the one
everlasting subject, in his neat, witty, unbelieving, French way.
"Give me a light, Betteredge. Is it conceivable that a man can have
smoked as long as I have without discovering that there is a complete
system for the treatment of women at the bottom of his cigar-case? Follow
me carefully, and I will prove it in two words. You choose a cigar,
you try it, and it disappoints you. What do you do upon that?
You throw it away and try another. Now observe the application!
You choose a woman, you try her, and she breaks your heart.
Fool! take a lesson from your cigar-case. Throw her away,
and try another!"
I shook my head at that. Wonderfully clever, I dare say, but my own
experience was dead against it. "In the time of the late Mrs. Betteredge,"
I said, "I felt pretty often inclined to try your philosophy, Mr. Franklin.
But the law insists on your smoking your cigar, sir, when you
have once chosen it." I pointed that observation with a wink.
Mr. Franklin burst out laughing--and we were as merry as crickets,
until the next new side of his character turned up in due course.
So things went on with my young master and me; and so (while the Sergeant
and the gardener were wrangling over the roses) we two spent the interval
before the news came back from Frizinghall.
The pony-chaise returned a good half hour before I had ventured to expect it.
My lady had decided to remain for the present, at her sister's house.
The groom brought two letters from his mistress; one addressed to
Mr. Franklin, and the other to me.
Mr. Franklin's letter I sent to him in the library--into which refuge
his driftings had now taken him for the second time. My own letter,
I read in my own room. A cheque, which dropped out when I opened it,
informed me (before I had mastered the contents) that Sergeant Cuff's
dismissal from the inquiry after the Moonstone was now a settled thing.
I sent to the conservatory to say that I wished to speak
to the Sergeant directly. He appeared, with his mind full
of the gardener and the dog-rose, declaring that the equal
of Mr. Begbie for obstinacy never had existed yet, and never
would exist again. I requested him to dismiss such wretched
trifling as this from our conversation, and to give his best
attention to a really serious matter. Upon that he exerted
himself sufficiently to notice the letter in my hand.
"Ah!" he said in a weary way, "you have heard from her ladyship.
Have I anything to do with it, Mr. Betteredge?"
"You shall judge for yourself, Sergeant." I thereupon read him the letter
(with my best emphasis and discretion), in the following words:
"MY GOOD GABRIEL,--I request that you will inform Sergeant Cuff,
that I have performed the promise I made to him; with this result,
so far as Rosanna Spearman is concerned. Miss Verinder solemnly
declares, that she has never spoken a word in private to Rosanna,
since that unhappy woman first entered my house. They never met,
even accidentally, on the night when the Diamond was lost;
and no communication of any sort whatever took place between them,
from the Thursday morning when the alarm was first raised in the house,
to this present Saturday afternoon, when Miss Verinder left us.
After telling my daughter suddenly, and in so many words, of Rosanna
Spearman's suicide--this is what has come of it."
Having reached that point, I looked up, and asked Sergeant Cuff
what he thought of the letter, so far?
"I should only offend you if I expressed MY opinion," answered the Sergeant.
"Go on, Mr. Betteredge," he said, with the most exasperating resignation,
When I remembered that this man had had the audacity to complain
of our gardener's obstinacy, my tongue itched to "go on" in other words
than my mistress's. This time, however, my Christianity held firm.
I proceeded steadily with her ladyship's letter:
"Having appealed to Miss Verinder in the manner which the officer
thought most desirable, I spoke to her next in the manner which I
myself thought most likely to impress her. On two different occasions,
before my daughter left my roof, I privately warned her that she
was exposing herself to suspicion of the most unendurable and most
degrading kind. I have now told her, in the plainest terms,
that my apprehensions have been realised.
"Her answer to this, on her own solemn affirmation, is as plain
as words can be. In the first place, she owes no money privately
to any living creature. In the second place, the Diamond is not now,
and never has been, in her possession, since she put it into her
cabinet on Wednesday night.
"The confidence which my daughter has placed in me goes no
further than this. She maintains an obstinate silence, when I
ask her if she can explain the disappearance of the Diamond.
She refuses, with tears, when I appeal to her to speak out
for my sake. "The day will come when you will know why I am
careless about being suspected, and why I am silent even to you.
I have done much to make my mother pity me--nothing to make
my mother blush for me." Those are my daughter's own words.
"After what has passed between the officer and me, I think--
stranger as he is--that he should be made acquainted with what
Miss Verinder has said, as well as you. Read my letter to him,
and then place in his hands the cheque which I enclose.
In resigning all further claim on his services, I have only
to say that I am convinced of his honesty and his intelligence;
but I am more firmly persuaded than ever, that the circumstances,
in this case, have fatally misled him."
There the letter ended. Before presenting the cheque, I asked Sergeant
Cuff if he had any remark to make.
"It's no part of my duty, Mr. Betteredge," he answered,
"to make remarks on a case, when I have done with it."
I tossed the cheque across the table to him. "Do you believe in THAT
part of her ladyship's letter?" I said, indignantly.
The Sergeant looked at the cheque, and lifted up his dismal
eyebrows in acknowledgment of her ladyship's liberality.
"This is such a generous estimate of the value of my time,"
he said, "that I feel bound to make some return for it.
I'll bear in mind the amount in this cheque, Mr. Betteredge,
when the occasion comes round for remembering it."
"What do you mean? " I asked.
"Her ladyship has smoothed matters over for the present very cleverly,"
said the Sergeant. "But THIS family scandal is of the sort that bursts up
again when you least expect it. We shall have more detective-business on
our hands, sir, before the Moonstone is many months older."
If those words meant anything, and if the manner in which he spoke them
meant anything--it came to this. My mistress's letter had proved,
to his mind, that Miss Rachel was hardened enough to resist
the strongest appeal that could be addressed to her, and that she
had deceived her own mother (good God, under what circumstances!)
by a series of abominable lies. How other people, in my place,
might have replied to the Sergeant, I don't know. I answered what
he said in these plain terms:
"Sergeant Cuff, I consider your last observation as an insult
to my lady and her daughter!"
"Mr. Betteredge, consider it as a warning to yourself, and you
will be nearer the mark."
Hot and angry as I was, the infernal confidence with which he gave me
that answer closed my lips.
I walked to the window to compose myself. The rain had given over;
and, who should I see in the court-yard, but Mr. Begbie, the gardener,
waiting outside to continue the dog-rose controversy with Sergeant Cuff.
"My compliments to the Sairgent," said Mr. Begbie, the moment
he set eyes on me. "If he's minded to walk to the station,
I'm agreeable to go with him."
"What!" cries the Sergeant, behind me, "are you not convinced yet?"
"The de'il a bit I'm convinced!" answered Mr. Begbie.
"Then I'll walk to the station!" says the Sergeant.
"Then I'll meet you at the gate!" says Mr. Begbie.
I was angry enough, as you know--but how was any man's anger
to hold out against such an interruption as this? Sergeant Cuff
noticed the change in me, and encouraged it by a word in season.
"Come! come!" he said, "why not treat my view of the case as her
ladyship treats it? Why not say, the circumstances have fatally
To take anything as her ladyship took it was a privilege worth enjoying--
even with the disadvantage of its having been offered to me by Sergeant Cuff.
I cooled slowly down to my customary level. I regarded any other opinion
of Miss Rachel, than my lady's opinion or mine, with a lofty contempt.
The only thing I could not do, was to keep off the subject of the Moonstone!
My own good sense ought to have warned me, I know, to let the matter rest--
but, there! the virtues which distinguish the present generation were not
invented in my time. Sergeant Cuff had hit me on the raw, and, though I
did look down upon him with contempt, the tender place still tingled for
all that. The end of it was that I perversely led him back to the subject
of her ladyship's letter. "I am quite satisfied myself," I said. "But never
mind that! Go on, as if I was still open to conviction. You think Miss
Rachel is not to be believed on her word; and you say we shall hear of the
Moonstone again. Back your opinion, Sergeant," I concluded, in an airy way.
"Back your opinion."
Instead of taking offence, Sergeant Cuff seized my hand,
and shook it till my fingers ached again.
"I declare to heaven," says this strange officer solemnly,
"I would take to domestic service to-morrow, Mr. Betteredge,
if I had a chance of being employed along with You!
To say you are as transparent as a child, sir, is to pay
the children a compliment which nine out of ten of them
don't deserve. There! there! we won't begin to dispute again.
You shall have it out of me on easier terms than that.
I won't say a word more about her ladyship, or about Miss Verinder--
I'll only turn prophet, for once in a way, and for your sake.
I have warned you already that you haven't done with the
Moonstone yet. Very well. Now I'll tell you, at parting,
of three things which will happen in the future, and which, I believe,
will force themselves on your attention, whether you like it
"Go on!" I said, quite unabashed, and just as airy as ever.
"First," said the Sergeant, "you will hear something from the Yollands--
when the postman delivers Rosanna's letter at Cobb's Hole, on Monday next."
If he had thrown a bucket of cold water over me, I doubt if I could
have felt it much more unpleasantly than I felt those words.
Miss Rachel's assertion of her innocence had left Rosanna's conduct--
the making the new nightgown, the hiding the smeared nightgown,
and all the rest of it--entirely without explanation. And this had
never occurred to me, till Sergeant Cuff forced it on my mind all in
"In the second place," proceeded the Sergeant, "you will hear of
the three Indians again. You will hear of them in the neighbourhood,
if Miss Rachel remains in the neighbourhood. You will hear of them
in London, if Miss Rachel goes to London."
Having lost all interest in the three jugglers, and having
thoroughly convinced myself of my young lady's innocence,
I took this second prophecy easily enough. "So much for two
of the three things that are going to happen," I said.
"Now for the third!"
"Third, and last," said Sergeant Cuff, "you will, sooner or later,
hear something of that money-lender in London, whom I have twice
taken the liberty of mentioning already. Give me your pocket-book,
and I'll make a note for you of his name and address--so that there
may be no mistake about it if the thing really happens."
He wrote accordingly on a blank leaf--"Mr. Septimus Luker,
Middlesex-place, Lambeth, London."
"There," he said, pointing to the address, "are the last words,
on the subject of the Moonstone, which I shall trouble you with
for the present. Time will show whether I am right or wrong.
In the meanwhile, sir, I carry away with me a sincere personal
liking for you, which I think does honour to both of us.
If we don't meet again before my professional retirement takes place,
I hope you will come and see me in a little house near London,
which I have got my eye on. There will be grass walks,
Mr. Betteredge, I promise you, in my garden. And as for the white
"The de'il a bit ye'll get the white moss rose to grow,
unless you bud him on the dogue-rose first," cried a voice
at the window.
We both turned round. There was the everlasting Mr. Begbie,
too eager for the controversy to wait any longer at the gate.
The Sergeant wrung my hand, and darted out into the court-yard,
hotter still on his side. "Ask him about the moss rose,
when he comes back, and see if I have left him a leg to stand on!"
cried the great Cuff, hailing me through the window in his turn.
"Gentlemen, both!" I answered, moderating them again as I had
moderated them once already.
In the matter of the moss rose there is a great deal to be
said on both sides!" I might as well (as the Irish say)
have whistled jigs to a milestone. Away they went together,
fighting the battle of the roses without asking or giving
quarter on either side. The last I saw of them, Mr. Begbie
was shaking his obstinate head, and Sergeant Cuff had got
him by the arm like a prisoner in charge. Ah, well! well!
I own I couldn't help liking the Sergeant--though I hated him all
Explain that state of mind, if you can. You will soon be rid, now, of me
and my contradictions. When I have reported Mr. Franklin's departure,
the history of the Saturday's events will be finished at last.
And when I have next described certain strange things that happened
in the course of the new week, I shall have done my part of the Story,
and shall hand over the pen to the person who is appointed to follow
my lead. If you are as tired of reading this narrative as I am of
writing it--Lord, how we shall enjoy ourselves on both sides a few pages
I had kept the pony chaise ready, in case Mr. Franklin persisted
in leaving us by the train that night. The appearance of the luggage,
followed downstairs by Mr. Franklin himself, informed me plainly
enough that he had held firm to a resolution for once in his life.
"So you have really made up your mind, sir?" I said, as we met in the hall.
"Why not wait a day or two longer, and give Miss Rachel another chance?"
The foreign varnish appeared to have all worn off Mr. Franklin,
now that the time had come for saying good-bye. Instead of replying
to me in words, he put the letter which her ladyship had addressed
to him into my hand. The greater part of it said over again what
had been said already in the other communication received by me.
But there was a bit about Miss Rachel added at the end, which will
account for the steadiness of Mr. Franklin's determination, if it
accounts for nothing else.
"You will wonder, I dare say" (her ladyship wrote), "at my
allowing my own daughter to keep me perfectly in the dark.
A Diamond worth twenty thousand pounds has been lost--and I am
left to infer that the mystery of its disappearance is no mystery
to Rachel, and that some incomprehensible obligation of silence
has been laid on her, by some person or persons utterly unknown
to me, with some object in view at which I cannot even guess.
Is it conceivable that I should allow myself to be trifled with in
this way? It is quite conceivable, in Rachel's present state.
She is in a condition of nervous agitation pitiable to see.
I dare not approach the subject of the Moonstone again until
time has done something to quiet her. To help this end,
I have not hesitated to dismiss the police-officer. The
mystery which baffles us, baffles him too. This is not a
matter in which any stranger can help us. He adds to what I
have to suffer; and he maddens Rachel if she only hears
"My plans for the future are as well settled as they can be.
My present idea is to take Rachel to London--partly to relieve her mind
by a complete change, partly to try what may be done by consulting
the best medical advice. Can I ask you to meet us in town?
My dear Franklin, you, in your way, must imitate my patience,
and wait, as I do, for a fitter time. The valuable assistance
which you rendered to the inquiry after the lost jewel is still an
unpardoned offence, in the present dreadful state of Rachel's mind.
Moving blindfold in this matter, you have added to the burden
of anxiety which she has had to bear, by innocently threatening
her secret with discovery, through your exertions. It is impossible
for me to excuse the perversity that holds you responsible for
consequences which neither you nor I could imagine or foresee.
She is not to be reasoned with--she can only be pitied.
I am grieved to have to say it, but for the present, you and Rachel
are better apart. The only advice I can offer you is, to give
I handed the letter back, sincerely sorry for Mr. Franklin,
for I knew how fond he was of my young lady; and I saw
that her mother's account of her had cut him to the heart.
"You know the proverb, sir," was all I said to him.
"When things are at the worst, they're sure to mend.
Things can't be much worse, Mr. Franklin, than they
Mr. Franklin folded up his aunt's letter, without appearing to be much
comforted by the remark which I had ventured on addressing to him.
"When I came here from London with that horrible Diamond,"
he said, "I don't believe there was a happier household in England
than this. Look at the household now! Scattered, disunited--
the very air of the place poisoned with mystery and suspicion!
Do you remember that morning at the Shivering Sand, when we
talked about my uncle Herncastle, and his birthday gift?
The Moonstone has served the Colonel's vengeance, Betteredge, by means
which the Colonel himself never dreamt of!"
With that he shook me by the hand, and went out to the pony chaise.
I followed him down the steps. It was very miserable to see him leaving
the old place, where he had spent the happiest years of his life,
in this way. Penelope (sadly upset by all that had happened in the house)
came round crying, to bid him good-bye. Mr. Franklin kissed her.
I waved my hand as much as to say, "You're heartily welcome, sir." Some of
the other female servants appeared, peeping after him round the corner.
He was one of those men whom the women all like. At the last moment,
I stopped the pony chaise, and begged as a favour that he would let
us hear from him by letter. He didn't seem to heed what I said--
he was looking round from one thing to another, taking a sort of farewell
of the old house and grounds. "Tell us where you are going to, sir!"
I said, holding on by the chaise, and trying to get at his future plans
in that way. Mr. Franklin pulled his hat down suddenly over his eyes.
"Going?" says he, echoing the word after me. "I am going to the devil!"
The pony started at the word, as if he had felt a Christian horror of it.
"God bless you, sir, go where you may!" was all I had time to say,
before he was out of sight and hearing. A sweet and pleasant gentleman!
With all his faults and follies, a sweet and pleasant gentleman! He left a
sad gap behind him, when he left my lady's house.
It was dull and dreary enough, when the long summer evening closed in,
on that Saturday night.
I kept my spirits from sinking by sticking fast to my pipe
and my ROBINSON CRUSOE. The women (excepting Penelope)
beguiled the time by talking of Rosanna's suicide. They were all
obstinately of opinion that the poor girl had stolen the Moonstone,
and that she had destroyed herself in terror of being found out.
My daughter, of course, privately held fast to what she had
said all along. Her notion of the motive which was really
at the bottom of the suicide failed, oddly enough, just where
my young lady's assertion of her innocence failed also.
It left Rosanna's secret journey to Frizinghall, and Rosanna's
proceedings in the matter of the nightgown entirely unaccounted for.
There was no use in pointing this out to Penelope; the objection
made about as much impression on her as a shower of rain
on a waterproof coat. The truth is, my daughter inherits my
superiority to reason--and, in respect to that accomplishment,
has got a long way ahead of her own father.
On the next day (Sunday), the close carriage, which had been kept
at Mr. Ablewhite's, came back to us empty. The coachman brought
a message for me, and written instructions for my lady's own maid
and for Penelope.
The message informed me that my mistress had determined to take
Miss Rachel to her house in London, on the Monday. The written
instructions informed the two maids of the clothing that was wanted,
and directed them to meet their mistresses in town at a given hour.
Most of the other servants were to follow. My lady had found Miss Rachel
so unwilling to return to the house, after what had happened in it,
that she had decided on going to London direct from Frizinghall.
I was to remain in the country, until further orders, to look after
things indoors and out. The servants left with me were to be put on
Being reminded, by all this, of what Mr. Franklin had said
about our being a scattered and disunited household, my mind
was led naturally to Mr. Franklin himself. The more I thought
of him, the more uneasy I felt about his future proceedings.
It ended in my writing, by the Sunday's post, to his father's valet,
Mr. Jeffco (whom I had known in former years) to beg he would
let me know what Mr. Franklin had settled to do, on arriving
The Sunday evening was, if possible, duller even than the Saturday evening.
We ended the day of rest, as hundreds of thousands of people end it regularly,
once a week, in these islands--that is to say, we all anticipated bedtime,
and fell asleep in our chairs.
How the Monday affected the rest of the household I don't know.
The Monday gave ME a good shake up. The first of Sergeant Cuff's
prophecies of what was to happen--namely, that I should hear from
the Yollands--came true on that day.
I had seen Penelope and my lady's maid off in the railway with the luggage
for London, and was pottering about the grounds, when I heard my name called.
Turning round, I found myself face to face with the fisherman's daughter,
Limping Lucy. Bating her lame foot and her leanness (this last a horrid
draw-back to a woman, in my opinion), the girl had some pleasing qualities
in the eye of a man. A dark, keen, clever face, and a nice clear voice, and a
beautiful brown head of hair counted among her merits. A crutch appeared
in the list of her misfortunes. And a temper reckoned high in the sum total
of her defects.
"Well, my dear," I said, "what do you want with me?"
"Where's the man you call Franklin Blake?" says the girl,
fixing me with a fierce look, as she rested herself on her crutch.
"That's not a respectful way to speak of any gentleman,"
I answered. "If you wish to inquire for my lady's nephew,
you will please to mention him as MR. Franklin Blake."
She limped a step nearer to me, and looked as if she could have
eaten me alive. "MR. Franklin Blake?" she repeated after me.
"Murderer Franklin Blake would be a fitter name for him."
My practice with the late Mrs. Betteredge came in handy here.
Whenever a woman tries to put you out of temper, turn the tables,
and put HER out of temper instead. They are generally prepared
for every effort you can make in your own defence, but that.
One word does it as well as a hundred; and one word did it
with Limping Lucy. I looked her pleasantly in the face;
and I said--"Pooh!"
The girl's temper flamed out directly. She poised herself on her sound foot,
and she took her crutch, and beat it furiously three times on the ground.
"He's a murderer! he's a murderer! he's a murderer! He has been the death
of Rosanna Spearman!" She screamed that answer out at the top of her voice.
One or two of the people at work in the grounds near us looked up--
saw it was Limping Lucy--knew what to expect from that quarter--and looked
"He has been the death of Rosanna Spearman?" I repeated.
"What makes you say that, Lucy?"
"What do you care? What does any man care? Oh! if she had only thought
of the men as I think, she might have been living now!"
"She always thought kindly of ME, poor soul," I said;
"and, to the best of my ability, I always tried to act kindly
I spoke those words in as comforting a manner as I could. The truth is,
I hadn't the heart to irritate the girl by another of my smart replies.
I had only noticed her temper at first. I noticed her wretchedness now--
and wretchedness is not uncommonly insolent, you will find, in humble life.
My answer melted Limping Lucy. She bent her head down, and laid it on the top
of her crutch.
"I loved her," the girl said softly. "She had lived a miserable life,
Mr. Betteredge--vile people had ill-treated her and led her wrong--
and it hadn't spoiled her sweet temper. She was an angel.
She might have been happy with me. I had a plan for our going
to London together like sisters, and living by our needles.
That man came here, and spoilt it all. He bewitched her.
Don't tell me he didn't mean it, and didn't know it.
He ought to have known it. He ought to have taken pity on her.
'I can't live without him--and, oh, Lucy, he never even looks
at me.' That's what she said. Cruel, cruel, cruel. I said,
'No man is worth fretting for in that way.' And she said,
'There are men worth dying for, Lucy, and he is one of them.'
I had saved up a little money. I had settled things with father
and mother. I meant to take her away from the mortification
she was suffering here. We should have had a little lodging
in London, and lived together like sisters. She had a
good education, sir, as you know, and she wrote a good hand.
She was quick at her needle. I have a good education, and I
write a good hand. I am not as quick at my needle as she was--
but I could have done. We might have got our living nicely.
And, oh! what happens this morning? what happens this morning?
Her letter comes and tells me that she has done with the burden
of her life. Her letter comes, and bids me good-bye for ever.
Where is he?" cries the girl, lifting her head from
the crutch, and flaming out again through her tears.
"Where's this gentleman that I mustn't speak of,
except with respect? Ha, Mr. Betteredge, the day is not far
off when the poor will rise against the rich. I pray Heaven
they may begin with HIM. I pray Heaven they may begin with
Here was another of your average good Christians, and here was the usual
break-down, consequent on that same average Christianity being pushed
too far! The parson himself (though I own this is saying a great deal)
could hardly have lectured the girl in the state she was in now.
All I ventured to do was to keep her to the point--in the hope of something
turning up which might be worth hearing.
"What do you want with Mr. Franklin Blake?" I asked.
"I want to see him."
"For anything particular?"
"I have got a letter to give him."
"From Rosanna Spearman?"
"Sent to you in your own letter?"
Was the darkness going to lift? Were all the discoveries that I was dying
to make, coming and offering themselves to me of their own accord?
I was obliged to wait a moment. Sergeant Cuff had left his infection
behind him. Certain signs and tokens, personal to myself, warned me that
the detective-fever was beginning to set in again.
"You can't see Mr. Franklin," I said.
"I must, and will, see him."
"He went to London last night."
Limping Lucy looked me hard in the face, and saw that I was speaking
the truth. Without a word more, she turned about again instantly towards
"Stop!" I said. "I expect news of Mr. Franklin Blake to-morrow.
Give me your letter, and I'll send it on to him by the post."
Limping Lucy steadied herself on her crutch and looked back at me
over her shoulder.
"I am to give it from my hands into his hands," she said.
"And I am to give it to him in no other way."
"Shall I write, and tell him what you have said?"
"Tell him I hate him. And you will tell him the truth."
"Yes, yes. But about the letter?"
"If he wants the letter, he must come back here, and get it from Me."
With those words she limped off on the way to Cobb's Hole.
The detective-fever burnt up all my dignity on the spot.
I followed her, and tried to make her talk. All in vain.
It was my misfortune to be a man--and Limping Lucy enjoyed
disappointing me. Later in the day, I tried my luck with her mother.
Good Mrs. Yolland could only cry, and recommend a drop of comfort
out of the Dutch bottle. I found the fisherman on the beach.
He said it was "a bad job," and went on mending his net.
Neither father nor mother knew more than I knew. The one way left
to try was the chance, which might come with the morning, of writing
to Mr. Franklin Blake.
I leave you to imagine how I watched for the postman on Tuesday morning.
He brought me two letters. One, from Penelope (which I had hardly patience
enough to read), announced that my lady and Miss Rachel were safely
established in London. The other, from Mr. Jeffco, informed me that his
master's son had left England already.
On reaching the metropolis, Mr. Franklin had, it appeared,
gone straight to his father's residence. He arrived at an awkward time.
Mr. Blake, the elder, was up to his eyes in the business of the House
of Commons, and was amusing himself at home that night with the
favourite parliamentary plaything which they call "a private bill."
Mr. Jeffco himself showed Mr. Franklin into his father's study.
"My dear Franklin! why do you surprise me in this way? Anything wrong?"
"Yes; something wrong with Rachel; I am dreadfully distressed
about it." "Grieved to hear it. But I can't listen to you now."
"When can you listen?" "My dear boy! I won't deceive you.
I can listen at the end of the session, not a moment before.
Good-night." "Thank you, sir. Good-night."
Such was the conversation, inside the study, as reported to me by
Mr. Jeffco. The conversation outside the study, was shorter still.
"Jeffco, see what time the tidal train starts to-morrow morning."
"At six-forty, Mr. Franklin." "Have me called at five."
"Going abroad, sir?" "Going, Jeffco, wherever the railway chooses
to take me." "Shall I tell your father, sir?" "Yes; tell him at the end
of the session."
The next morning Mr. Franklin had started for foreign parts.
To what particular place he was bound, nobody (himself included)
could presume to guess. We might hear of him next in Europe,
Asia, Africa, or America. The chances were as equally divided
as possible, in Mr. Jeffco's opinion, among the four quarters of
This news--by closing up all prospects of my bringing
Limping Lucy and Mr. Franklin together--at once stopped
any further progress of mine on the way to discovery.
Penelope's belief that her fellow-servant had destroyed herself
through unrequited love for Mr. Franklin Blake, was confirmed--
and that was all. Whether the letter which Rosanna had left
to be given to him after her death did, or did not, contain the
confession which Mr. Franklin had suspected her of trying
to make to him in her life-time, it was impossible to say.
It might be only a farewell word, telling nothing but the
secret of her unhappy fancy for a person beyond her reach.
Or it might own the whole truth about the strange proceedings
in which Sergeant Cuff had detected her, from the time when
the Moonstone was lost, to the time when she rushed to her own
destruction at the Shivering Sand. A sealed letter it had been
placed in Limping Lucy's hand, and a sealed letter it remained
to me and to every one about the girl, her own parents included.
We all suspected her of having been in the dead woman's confidence;
we all tried to make her speak; we all failed. Now one,
and now another, of the servants--still holding to the belief
that Rosanna had stolen the Diamond and had hidden it--
peered and poked about the rocks to which she had been traced,
and peered and poked in vain. The tide ebbed, and the tide flowed;
the summer went on, and the autumn came. And the Quicksand,
which hid her body, hid her secret too.
The news of Mr. Franklin's departure from England on the Sunday morning,
and the news of my lady's arrival in London with Miss Rachel on the
Monday afternoon, had reached me, as you are aware, by the Tuesday's post.
The Wednesday came, and brought nothing. The Thursday produced a second
budget of news from Penelope.
My girl's letter informed me that some great London doctor
had been consulted about her young lady, and had earned
a guinea by remarking that she had better be amused.
Flower-shows, operas, balls--there was a whole round of gaieties
in prospect; and Miss Rachel, to her mother's astonishment,
eagerly took to it all. Mr. Godfrey had called; evidently as sweet
as ever on his cousin, in spite of the reception he had met with,
when he tried his luck on the occasion of the birthday.
To Penelope's great regret, he had been most graciously received,
and had added Miss Rachel's name to one of his Ladies'
Charities on the spot. My mistress was reported to be out
of spirits, and to have held two long interviews with her lawyer.
Certain speculations followed, referring to a poor relation
of the family--one Miss Clack, whom I have mentioned in my
account of the birthday dinner, as sitting next to Mr. Godfrey,
and having a pretty taste in champagne. Penelope was
astonished to find that Miss Clack had not called yet.
She would surely not be long before she fastened herself on my
lady as usual--and so forth, and so forth, in the way women
have of girding at each other, on and off paper. This would
not have been worth mentioning, I admit, but for one reason.
I hear you are likely to be turned over to Miss Clack,
after parting with me. In that case, just do me the favour
of not believing a word she says, if she speaks of your
On Friday, nothing happened--except that one of the dogs showed signs
of a breaking out behind the ears. I gave him a dose of syrup of buckthorn,
and put him on a diet of pot-liquor and vegetables till further orders.
Excuse my mentioning this. It has slipped in somehow. Pass it over please.
I am fast coming to the end of my offences against your cultivated
modern taste. Besides, the dog was a good creature, and deserved a
good physicking; he did indeed.
Saturday, the last day of the week, is also the last day in my narrative.
The morning's post brought me a surprise in the shape of a London newspaper.
The handwriting on the direction puzzled me. I compared it with the
money-lender's name and address as recorded in my pocket-pook, and identified
it at once as the writing of Sergeant Cuff.
Looking through the paper eagerly enough, after this discovery,
I found an ink-mark drawn round one of the police reports.
Here it is, at your service. Read it as I read it, and you
will set the right value on the Sergeant's polite attention
in sending me the news of the day:
"LAMBETH--Shortly before the closing of the court, Mr. Septimus Luker,
the well-known dealer in ancient gems, carvings, intagli, &c., &c.,
applied to the sitting magistrate for advice. The applicant stated
that he had been annoyed, at intervals throughout the day, by the
proceedings of some of those strolling Indians who infest the streets.
The persons complained of were three in number. After having been sent
away by the police, they had returned again and again, and had attempted
to enter the house on pretence of asking for charity. Warned off in
the front, they had been discovered again at the back of the premises.
Besides the annoyance complained of, Mr. Luker expressed himself
as being under some apprehension that robbery might be contemplated.
His collection contained many unique gems, both classical and Oriental,
of the highest value. He had only the day before been compelled
to dismiss a skilled workman in ivory carving from his employment
(a native of India, as we understood), on suspicion of attempted theft;
and he felt by no means sure that this man and the street jugglers
of whom he complained, might not be acting in concert. It might be
their object to collect a crowd, and create a disturbance in the street,
and, in the confusion thus caused, to obtain access to the house.
In reply to the magistrate, Mr. Luker admitted that he had no evidence
to produce of any attempt at robbery being in contemplation.
He could speak positively to the annoyance and interruption caused
by the Indians, but not to anything else. The magistrate remarked that,
if the annoyance were repeated, the applicant could summon the Indians
to that court, where they might easily be dealt with under the Act.
As to the valuables in Mr. Luker's possession, Mr. Luker himself must
take the best measures for their safe custody. He would do well perhaps
to communicate with the police, and to adopt such additional precautions
as their experience might suggest. The applicant thanked his worship,
One of the wise ancients is reported (I forget on what occasion)
as having recommended his fellow-creatures to "look to the end."
Looking to the end of these pages of mine, and wondering for
some days past how I should manage to write it, I find my plain
statement of facts coming to a conclusion, most appropriately,
of its own self. We have gone on, in this matter of the Moonstone,
from on marvel to another; and here we end with the greatest
marvel of all--namely, the accomplishment of Sergeant Cuff's
three predictions in less than a week from the time when he had
After hearing from the Yollands on the Monday, I had now heard of
the Indians, and heard of the money-lender, in the news from London--
Miss Rachel herself remember, being also in London at the time.
You see, I put things at their worst, even when they tell dead
against my own view. If you desert me, and side with the Sergeant,
on the evidence before you--if the only rational explanation you
can see is, that Miss Rachel and Mr. Luker must have got together,
and that the Moonstone must be now in pledge in the money-lender's house--
I own, I can't blame you for arriving at that conclusion. In the dark,
I have brought you thus far. In the dark I am compelled to leave you,
with my best respects.
Why compelled? it may be asked. Why not take the persons who have gone
along with me, so far, up into those regions of superior enlightenment
in which I sit myself?
In answer to this, I can only state that I am acting under orders,
and that those orders have been given to me (as I understand)
in the interests of truth. I am forbidden to tell more in this
narrative than I knew myself at the time. Or, to put it plainer,
I am to keep strictly within the limits of my own experience,
and am not to inform you of what other persons told me--
for the very sufficient reason that you are to have the information
from those other persons themselves, at first hand. In this
matter of the Moonstone the plan is, not to present reports,
but to produce witnesses. I picture to myself a member
of the family reading these pages fifty years hence.
Lord! what a compliment he will feel it, to be asked to take nothing
on hear-say, and to be treated in all respects like a Judge on
At this place, then, we part--for the present, at least--
after long journeying together, with a companionable feeling,
I hope, on both sides. The devil's dance of the Indian Diamond
has threaded its way to London; and to London you must go
after it, leaving me at the country-house. Please to excuse
the faults of this composition--my talking so much of myself,
and being too familiar, I am afraid, with you. I mean no harm;
and I drink most respectfully (having just done dinner)
to your health and prosperity, in a tankard of her ladyship's ale.
May you find in these leaves of my writing, what ROBINSON
CRUSOE found in his experience on the desert island--
namely, "something to comfort yourselves from, and to set
in the Description of Good and Evil, on the Credit Side of
THE END OF THE FIRST PERIOD.
THE DISCOVERY OF THE TRUTH (1848-1849)
The events related in several narratives.
Contributed by MISS CLACK; niece of the late
SIR JOHN VERINDER
I am indebted to my dear parents (both now in heaven) for having had habits
of order and regularity instilled into me at a very early age.
In that happy bygone time, I was taught to keep my hair tidy
at all hours of the day and night, and to fold up every article
of my clothing carefully, in the same order, on the same chair,
in the same place at the foot of the bed, before retiring
to rest. An entry of the day's events in my little diary
invariably preceded the folding up. The "Evening Hymn"
(repeated in bed) invariably followed the folding up.
And the sweet sleep of childhood invariably followed the
In later life (alas!) the Hymn has been succeeded by sad and
bitter meditations; and the sweet sleep has been but ill exchanged
for the broken slumbers which haunt the uneasy pillow of care.
On the other hand, I have continued to fold my clothes,
and to keep my little diary. The former habit links me to my
happy childhood--before papa was ruined. The latter habit--
hitherto mainly useful in helping me to discipline the fallen
nature which we all inherit from Adam--has unexpectedly proved
important to my humble interests in quite another way.
It has enabled poor Me to serve the caprice of a wealthy member
of the family into which my late uncle married. I am fortunate
enough to be useful to Mr. Franklin Blake.
I have been cut off from all news of my relatives by marriage
for some time past. When we are isolated and poor, we are not
infrequently forgotten. I am now living, for economy's sake,
in a little town in Brittany, inhabited by a select circle
of serious English friends, and possessed of the inestimable
advantages of a Protestant clergyman and a cheap market.
In this retirement--a Patmos amid the howling ocean of popery
that surrounds us--a letter from England has reached me at last.
I find my insignificant existence suddenly remembered by
Mr. Franklin Blake. My wealthy relative--would that I could add
my spiritually-wealthy relative!--writes, without even an attempt
at disguising that he wants something of me. The whim has
seized him to stir up the deplorable scandal of the Moonstone:
and I am to help him by writing the account of what I myself
witnessed while visiting at Aunt Verinder's house in London.
Pecuniary remuneration is offered to me--with the want
of feeling peculiar to the rich. I am to re-open wounds
that Time has barely closed; I am to recall the most intensely
painful remembrances--and this done, I am to feel myself compensated
by a new laceration, in the shape of Mr. Blake's cheque.
My nature is weak. It cost me a hard struggle, before Christian
humility conquered sinful pride, and self-denial accepted
Without my diary, I doubt--pray let me express it in the grossest terms!--
if I could have honestly earned my money. With my diary, the poor labourer
(who forgives Mr. Blake for insulting her) is worthy of her hire.
Nothing escaped me at the time I was visiting dear Aunt Verinder.
Everything was entered (thanks to my early training) day by day
as it happened; and everything down to the smallest particular,
shall be told here. My sacred regard for truth is (thank God)
far above my respect for persons. It will be easy for Mr. Blake
to suppress what may not prove to be sufficiently flattering
in these pages to the person chiefly concerned in them. He has
purchased my time, but not even HIS wealth can purchase my conscience
* NOTE. ADDED BY FRANKLIN BLAKE.--Miss Clack may make her mind quite
easy on this point. Nothing will be added, altered or removed,
in her manuscript, or in any of the other manuscripts which
pass through my hands. Whatever opinions any of the writers
may express, whatever peculiarities of treatment may mark,
and perhaps in a literary sense, disfigure the narratives which I
am now collecting, not a line will be tampered with anywhere,
from first to last. As genuine documents they are sent to me--
and as genuine documents I shall preserve them, endorsed by
the attestations of witnesses who can speak to the facts.
It only remains to be added that "the person chiefly concerned"
in Miss Clack's narrative, is happy enough at the present moment,
not only to brave the smartest exercise of Miss Clack's pen,
but even to recognise its unquestionable value as an instrument for
the exhibition of Miss Clack's character.
My diary informs me, that I was accidentally passing Aunt Verinder's house
in Montagu Square, on Monday, 3rd July, 1848.
Seeing the shutters opened, and the blinds drawn up, I felt that it
would be an act of polite attention to knock, and make inquiries.
The person who answered the door, informed me that my aunt and
her daughter (I really cannot call her my cousin!) had arrived from
the country a week since, and meditated making some stay in London.
I sent up a message at once, declining to disturb them, and only
begging to know whether I could be of any use.
The person who answered the door, took my message in insolent silence,
and left me standing in the hall. She is the daughter of a heathen old
man named Betteredge--long, too long, tolerated in my aunt's family.
I sat down in the hall to wait for my answer--and, having always
a few tracts in my bag, I selected one which proved to be quite
providentially applicable to the person who answered the door.
The hall was dirty, and the chair was hard; but the blessed
consciousness of returning good for evil raised me quite above
any trifling considerations of that kind. The tract was one
of a series addressed to young women on the sinfulness of dress.
In style it was devoutly familiar. Its title was, "A Word With You On
"My lady is much obliged, and begs you will come and lunch to-morrow at two."
I passed over the manner in which she gave her message,
and the dreadful boldness of her look. I thanked this
young castaway; and I said, in a tone of Christian interest,
"Will you favour me by accepting a tract?"
She looked at the title. "Is it written by a man or a woman, Miss?
If it's written by a woman, I had rather not read it on that account.
If it's written by a man, I beg to inform him that he knows nothing
about it." She handed me back the tract, and opened the door.
We must sow the good seed somehow. I waited till the door was
shut on me, and slipped the tract into the letter-box. When I had
dropped another tract through the area railings, I felt relieved,
in some small degree, of a heavy responsibility towards others.
We had a meeting that evening of the Select Committee of the
Mothers'-Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society. The object of this excellent
Charity is--as all serious people know--to rescue unredeemed fathers'
trousers from the pawnbroker, and to prevent their resumption,
on the part of the irreclaimable parent, by abridging them immediately
to suit the proportions of the innocent son. I was a member,
at that time, of the select committee; and I mention the Society here,
because my precious and admirable friend, Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite,
was associated with our work of moral and material usefulness.
I had expected to see him in the boardroom, on the Monday evening
of which I am now writing, and had proposed to tell him, when we met,
of dear Aunt Verinder's arrival in London. To my great disappointment
he never appeared. On my expressing a feeling of surprise at his absence,
my sisters of the Committee all looked up together from their trousers
(we had a great pressure of business that night), and asked in amazement,
if I had not heard the news. I acknowledged my ignorance, and was
then told, for the first time, of an event which forms, so to speak,
the starting-point of this narrative. On the previous Friday,
two gentlemen--occupying widely-different positions in society--
had been the victims of an outrage which had startled all London.
One of the gentlemen was Mr. Septimus Luker, of Lambeth. The other was
Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite.
Living in my present isolation, I have no means of introducing
the newspaper-account of the outrage into my narrative. I was
also deprived, at the time, of the inestimable advantage of hearing
the events related by the fervid eloquence of Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite.
All I can do is to state the facts as they were stated,
on that Monday evening, to me; proceeding on the plan which I
have been taught from infancy to adopt in folding up my clothes.
Everything shall be put neatly, and everything shall be put in its place.
These lines are written by a poor weak woman. From a poor weak woman
who will be cruel enough to expect more?
The date--thanks to my dear parents, no dictionary that ever
was written can be more particular than I am about dates--
was Friday, June 30th, 1848.
Early on that memorable day, our gifted Mr. Godfrey happened
to be cashing a cheque at a banking-house in Lombard Street.
The name of the firm is accidentally blotted in my diary, and my
sacred regard for truth forbids me to hazard a guess in a matter
of this kind. Fortunately, the name of the firm doesn't matter.
What does matter is a circumstance that occurred when Mr. Godfrey
had transacted his business. On gaining the door, he encountered
a gentleman--a perfect stranger to him--who was accidentally
leaving the office exactly at the same time as himself.
A momentary contest of politeness ensued between them as to
who should be the first to pass through the door of the bank.
The stranger insisted on making Mr. Godfrey precede him;
Mr. Godfrey said a few civil words; they bowed, and parted in
Thoughtless and superficial people may say, Here is surely a very trumpery
little incident related in an absurdly circumstantial manner. Oh, my young
friends and fellow-sinners! beware of presuming to exercise your poor
carnal reason. Oh, be morally tidy. Let your faith be as your stockings,
and your stockings as your faith. Both ever spotless, and both ready to put
on at a moment's notice!
I beg a thousand pardons. I have fallen insensibly into my
Sunday-school style. Most inappropriate in such a record
as this. Let me try to be worldly--let me say that trifles,
in this case as in many others, led to terrible results.
Merely premising that the polite stranger was Mr. Luker,
of Lambeth, we will now follow Mr. Godfrey home to his residence
He found waiting for him, in the hall, a poorly clad but delicate
and interesting-looking little boy. The boy handed him a letter,
merely mentioning that he had been entrusted with it by an old
lady whom he did not know, and who had given him no instructions
to wait for an answer. Such incidents as these were not uncommon
in Mr. Godfrey's large experience as a promoter of public charities.
He let the boy go, and opened the letter.
The handwriting was entirely unfamiliar to him. It requested his attendance,
within an hour's time, at a house in Northumberland Street, Strand,
which he had never had occasion to enter before. The object sought
was to obtain from the worthy manager certain details on the subject
of the Mothers'-Small-Clothes-Conver-sion-Society, and the information
was wanted by an elderly lady who proposed adding largely to the resources
of the charity, if her questions were met by satisfactory replies.
She mentioned her name, and she added that the shortness of her stay
in London prevented her from giving any longer notice to the eminent
philanthropist whom she addressed.
Ordinary people might have hesitated before setting aside
their own engagements to suit the convenience of a stranger.
The Christian Hero never hesitates where good is to be done.
Mr. Godfrey instantly turned back, and proceeded to the house
in Northumberland Street. A most respectable though somewhat
corpulent man answered the door, and, on hearing Mr. Godfrey's name,
immediately conducted him into an empty apartment at the back,
on the drawing-room floor. He noticed two unusual things on entering
the room. One of them was a faint odour of musk and camphor.
The other was an ancient Oriental manuscript, richly illuminated
with Indian figures and devices, that lay open to inspection on
He was looking at the book, the position of which caused him to stand
with his back turned towards the closed folding doors communicating
with the front room, when, without the slightest previous noise to
warn him, he felt himself suddenly seized round the neck from behind.
He had just time to notice that the arm round his neck was naked and of a
tawny-brown colour, before his eyes were bandaged, his mouth was gagged,
and he was thrown helpless on the floor by (as he judged) two men.
A third rifled his pockets, and--if, as a lady, I may venture to use
such an expression--searched him, without ceremony, through and through to
Here I should greatly enjoy saying a few cheering words on the devout
confidence which could alone have sustained Mr. Godfrey in an emergency
so terrible as this. Perhaps, however, the position and appearance of my
admirable friend at the culminating period of the outrage (as above described)
are hardly within the proper limits of female discussion.
Let me pass over the next few moments, and return to Mr. Godfrey
at the time when the odious search of his person had been completed.
The outrage had been perpetrated throughout in dead silence.
At the end of it some words were exchanged, among the invisible wretches,
in a language which he did not understand, but in tones which were
plainly expressive (to his cultivated ear) of disappointment and rage.
He was suddenly lifted from the ground, placed in a chair, and bound
there hand and foot. The next moment he felt the air flowing in from
the open door, listened, and concluded that he was alone again in
An interval elapsed, and he heard a sound below like the rustling
sound of a woman's dress. It advanced up the stairs, and stopped.
A female scream rent the atmosphere of guilt. A man's voice
below exclaimed "Hullo!" A man's feet ascended the stairs.
Mr. Godfrey felt Christian fingers unfastening his bandage,
and extracting his gag. He looked in amazement at two
respectable strangers, and faintly articulated, "What does
it mean?" The two respectable strangers looked back, and said,
"Exactly the question we were going to ask YOU."
The inevitable explanation followed. No! Let me be scrupulously particular.
Sal volatile and water followed, to compose dear Mr. Godfrey's nerves.
The explanation came next.
It appeared from the statement of the landlord and landlady of the house
(persons of good repute in the neighbourhood), that their first and
second floor apartments had been engaged, on the previous day, for a
week certain, by a most respectable-looking gentleman--the same who has
been already described as answering the door to Mr. Godfrey's knock.
The gentleman had paid the week's rent and all the week's extras in advance,
stating that the apartments were wanted for three Oriental noblemen,
friends of his, who were visiting England for the first time.
Early on the morning of the outrage, two of the Oriental strangers,
accompanied by their respectable English friend, took possession
of the apartments. The third was expected to join them shortly;
and the luggage (reported as very bulky) was announced to follow
when it had passed through the Custom-house, late in the afternoon.
Not more than ten minutes previous to Mr. Godfrey's visit, the third
foreigner had arrived. Nothing out of the common had happened,
to the knowledge of the landlord and landlady down-stairs, until
within the last five minutes--when they had seen the three foreigners,
accompanied by their respectable English friend, all leave the house together,
walking quietly in the direction of the Strand. Remembering that a
visitor had called, and not having seen the visitor also leave the house,
the landlady had thought it rather strange that the gentleman should be
left by himself up-stairs. After a short discussion with her husband,
she had considered it advisable to ascertain whether anything was wrong.
The result had followed, as I have already attempted to describe it;
and there the explanation of the landlord and the landlady came to an
An investigation was next made in the room. Dear Mr. Godfrey's
property was found scattered in all directions.
When the articles were collected, however, nothing was missing;
his watch, chain, purse, keys, pocket-handkerchief, note-book,
and all his loose papers had been closely examined,
and had then been left unharmed to be resumed by the owner.
In the same way, not the smallest morsel of property belonging
to the proprietors of the house had been abstracted.
The Oriental noblemen had removed their own illuminated manuscript,
and had removed nothing else.
What did it mean? Taking the worldly point of view,
it appeared to mean that Mr. Godfrey had been the victim of some
incomprehensible error, committed by certain unknown men.
A dark conspiracy was on foot in the midst of us; and our
beloved and innocent friend had been entangled in its meshes.
When the Christian hero of a hundred charitable victories plunges
into a pitfall that has been dug for him by mistake, oh, what a
warning it is to the rest of us to be unceasingly on our guard!
How soon may our own evil passions prove to be Oriental noblemen
who pounce on us unawares!
I could write pages of affectionate warning on this one theme, but
(alas!) I am not permitted to improve--I am condemned to narrate.
My wealthy relative's cheque--henceforth, the incubus of my existence--
warns me that I have not done with this record of violence yet.
We must leave Mr. Godfrey to recover in Northumberland Street,
and must follow the proceedings of Mr. Luker at a later period of
After leaving the bank, Mr. Luker had visited various parts
of London on business errands. Returning to his own residence,
he found a letter waiting for him, which was described as having
been left a short time previously by a boy. In this case,
as in Mr. Godfrey's case, the handwriting was strange;
but the name mentioned was the name of one of Mr. Luker's customers.
His correspondent announced (writing in the third person--
apparently by the hand of a deputy) that he had been
unexpectedly summoned to London. He had just established
himself in lodgings in Alfred Place, Tottenham Court Road;
and he desired to see Mr. Luker immediately, on the subject
of a purchase which he contemplated making. The gentleman was
an enthusiastic collector of Oriental antiquities, and had been
for many years a liberal patron of the establishment in Lambeth.
Oh, when shall we wean ourselves from the worship of Mammon!
Mr. Luker called a cab, and drove off instantly to his
Exactly what had happened to Mr. Godfrey in Northumberland Street
now happened to Mr. Luker in Alfred Place. Once more the respectable
man answered the door, and showed the visitor up-stairs into the back
drawing-room. There, again, lay the illuminated manuscript on a table.
Mr. Luker's attention was absorbed, as Mr. Godfrey's attention
had been absorbed, by this beautiful work of Indian art.
He too was aroused from his studies by a tawny naked arm round
his throat, by a bandage over his eyes, and by a gag in his mouth.
He too was thrown prostrate and searched to the skin. A longer interval
had then elapsed than had passed in the experience of Mr. Godfrey;
but it had ended as before, in the persons of the house suspecting
something wrong, and going up-stairs to see what had happened.
Precisely the same explanation which the landlord in Northumberland
Street had given to Mr. Godfrey, the landlord in Alfred Place now
gave to Mr. Luker. Both had been imposed on in the same way by the
plausible address and well-filled purse of the respectable stranger,
who introduced himself as acting for his foreign friends. The one
point of difference between the two cases occurred when the scattered
contents of Mr. Luker's pockets were being collected from the floor.
His watch and purse were safe, but (less fortunate than Mr. Godfrey)
one of the loose papers that he carried about him had been taken away.
The paper in question acknowledged the receipt of a valuable of great
price which Mr. Luker had that day left in the care of his bankers.
This document would be useless for purposes of fraud, inasmuch as it
provided that the valuable should only be given up on the personal
application of the owner. As soon as he recovered himself, Mr. Luker
hurried to the bank, on the chance that the thieves who had robbed him
might ignorantly present themselves with the receipt. Nothing had
been seen of them when he arrived at the establishment, and nothing
was seen of them afterwards. Their respectable English friend had
(in the opinion of the bankers) looked the receipt over before they
attempted to make use of it, and had given them the necessary warning in
Information of both outrages was communicated to the police,
and the needful investigations were pursued, I believe,
with great energy. The authorities held that a robbery had
been planned, on insufficient information received by the thieves.
They had been plainly not sure whether Mr. Luker had, or had not,
trusted the transmission of his precious gem to another person;
and poor polite Mr. Godfrey had paid the penalty of having
been seen accidentally speaking to him. Add to this,
that Mr. Godfrey's absence from our Monday evening meeting
had been occasioned by a consultation of the authorities,
at which he was requested to assist--and all the explanations
required being now given, I may proceed with the simpler story
of my own little personal experiences in Montagu Square.
I was punctual to the luncheon hour on Tuesday. Reference to my diary shows
this to have been a chequered day--much in it to be devoutly regretted,
much in it to be devoutly thankful for.
Dear Aunt Verinder received me with her usual grace and kindness.
But I noticed, after a little while, that something was wrong.
Certain anxious looks escaped my aunt, all of which took the direction
of her daughter. I never see Rachel myself without wondering how it
can be that so insignificant-looking a person should be the child
of such distinguished parents as Sir John and Lady Verinder.
On this occasion, however, she not only disappointed--she really
shocked me. There was an absence of all lady-like restraint
in her language and manner most painful to see. She was possessed
by some feverish excitement which made her distressingly loud when
she laughed, and sinfully wasteful and capricious in what she ate
and drank at lunch. I felt deeply for her poor mother, even before
the true state of the case had been confidentially made known
Luncheon over, my aunt said: "Remember what the doctor told you,
Rachel, about quieting yourself with a book after taking your meals."
"I'll go into the library, mamma," she answered.
"But if Godfrey calls, mind I am told of it. I am dying for more
news of him, after his adventure in Northumberland Street."
She kissed her mother on the forehead, and looked my way.
"Good-bye, Clack," she said, carelessly. Her insolence roused
no angry feeling in me; I only made a private memorandum to pray
When we were left by ourselves, my aunt told me the whole
horrible story of the Indian Diamond, which, I am happy to know,
it is not necessary to repeat here. She did not conceal from me
that she would have preferred keeping silence on the subject.
But when her own servants all knew of the loss of the Moonstone,
and when some of the circumstances had actually found their way
into the newspapers--when strangers were speculating whether
there was any connection between what had happened at Lady
Verinder's country-house, and what had happened in Northumberland
Street and Alfred Place--concealment was not to be thought of;
and perfect frankness became a necessity as well as a virtue.
Some persons, hearing what I now heard, would have been
probably overwhelmed with astonishment. For my own part,
knowing Rachel's spirit to have been essentially unregenerate
from her childhood upwards, I was prepared for whatever
my aunt could tell me on the subject of her daughter.
It might have gone on from bad to worse till it ended in Murder;
and I should still have said to myself, The natural result! oh,
dear, dear, the natural result! The one thing that DID shock
me was the course my aunt had taken under the circumstances.
Here surely was a case for a clergyman, if ever there was one yet!
Lady Verinder had thought it a case for a physician. All my poor
aunt's early life had been passed in her father's godless household.
The natural result again! Oh, dear, dear, the natural
"The doctors recommend plenty of exercise and amusement for Rachel,
and strongly urge me to keep her mind as much as possible from dwelling
on the past," said Lady Verinder.
"Oh, what heathen advice!" I thought to myself. "In this Christian country,
what heathen advice!"
My aunt went on, "I do my best to carry out my instructions. But this
strange adventure of Godfrey's happens at a most unfortunate time.
Rachel has been incessantly restless and excited since she first heard of it.
She left me no peace till I had written and asked my nephew Ablewhite
to come here. She even feels an interest in the other person who was
roughly used--Mr. Luker, or some such name--though the man is, of course,
a total stranger to her."
"Your knowledge of the world, dear aunt, is superior to mine,"
I suggested diffidently. "But there must be a reason
surely for this extraordinary conduct on Rachel's part.
She is keeping a sinful secret from you and from everybody.
May there not be something in these recent events which threatens her
secret with discovery?"
"Discovery?" repeated my aunt. "What can you possibly mean?
Discovery through Mr. Luker? Discovery through my nephew?"
As the word passed her lips, a special providence occurred.
The servant opened the door, and announced Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite.
Mr. Godfrey followed the announcement of his name--
as Mr. Godfrey does everything else--exactly at the right time.
He was not so close on the servant's heels as to startle us.
He was not so far behind as to cause us the double inconvenience
of a pause and an open door. It is in the completeness of his
daily life that the true Christian appears. This dear man was
"Go to Miss Verinder," said my aunt, addressing the servant,
"and tell her Mr. Ablewhite is here."
We both inquired after his health. We both asked him together whether
he felt like himself again, after his terrible adventure of the past week.
With perfect tact, he contrived to answer us at the same moment.
Lady Verinder had his reply in words. I had his charming smile.
"What," he cried, with infinite tenderness, "have I done
to deserve all this sympathy? My dear aunt! my dear
Miss Clack! I have merely been mistaken for somebody else.
I have only been blindfolded; I have only been strangled;
I have only been thrown flat on my back, on a very thin carpet,
covering a particularly hard floor. Just think how much
worse it might have been! I might have been murdered;
I might have been robbed. What have I lost? Nothing but
Nervous Force--which the law doesn't recognise as property;
so that, strictly speaking, I have lost nothing at all.
If I could have had my own way, I would have kept my adventure
to myself--I shrink from all this fuss and publicity.
But Mr. Luker made HIS injuries public, and my injuries,
as the necessary consequence, have been proclaimed in their turn.
I have become the property of the newspapers, until the gentle reader
gets sick of the subject. I am very sick indeed of it myself.
May the gentle reader soon be like me! And how is dear Rachel?
Still enjoying the gaieties of London? So glad to hear it!
Miss Clack, I need all your indulgence. I am sadly behind-hand
with my Committee Work and my dear Ladies. But I really
do hope to look in at the Mothers'-Small-Clothes next week.
Did you make cheering progress at Monday's Committee? Was the Board
hopeful about future prospects? And are we nicely off for
The heavenly gentleness of his smile made his apologies irresistible.
The richness of his deep voice added its own indescribable charm to
the interesting business question which he had just addressed to me.
In truth, we were almost TOO nicely off for Trousers; we were quite
overwhelmed by them. I was just about to say so, when the door opened again,
and an element of worldly disturbance entered the room, in the person of
She approached dear Mr. Godfrey at a most unladylike rate of speed,
with her hair shockingly untidy, and her face, what I should call,
"I am charmed to see you, Godfrey," she said, addressing him,
I grieve to add, in the off-hand manner of one young man talking
to another. "I wish you had brought Mr. Luker with you.
You and he (as long as our present excitement lasts) are the two
most interesting men in all London. It's morbid to say this;
it's unhealthy; it's all that a well-regulated mind like Miss
Clack's most instinctively shudders at. Never mind that.
Tell me the whole of the Northumberland Street story directly.
I know the newspapers have left some of it out."
Even dear Mr. Godfrey partakes of the fallen nature which we
all inherit from Adam--it is a very small share of our
human legacy, but, alas! he has it. I confess it grieved
me to see him take Rachel's hand in both of his own hands,
and lay it softly on the left side of his waistcoat.
It was a direct encouragement to her reckless way of talking,
and her insolent reference to me.
"Dearest Rachel," he said, in the same voice which had thrilled me
when he spoke of our prospects and our trousers, "the newspapers
have told you everything--and they have told it much better than
"Godfrey thinks we all make too much of the matter," my aunt remarked.
"He has just been saying that he doesn't care to speak of it."
She put the question with a sudden flash in her eyes,
and a sudden look up into Mr. Godfrey's face. On his side,
he looked down at her with an indulgence so injudicious and so
ill-deserved, that I really felt called on to interfere.
"Rachel, darling!" I remonstrated gently, "true greatness and true courage
are ever modest."
"You are a very good fellow in your way, Godfrey," she said--
not taking the smallest notice, observe, of me, and still speaking
to her cousin as if she was one young man addressing another.
"But I am quite sure you are not great; I don't believe you
possess any extraordinary courage; and I am firmly persuaded--
if you ever had any modesty--that your lady-worshippers relieved
you of that virtue a good many years since. You have some private
reason for not talking of your adventure in Northumberland Street;
and I mean to know it."
"My reason is the simplest imaginable, and the most easily acknowledged,"
he answered, still bearing with her. "I am tired of the subject."
"You are tired of the subject? My dear Godfrey, I am going to make a remark."
"What is it?"
"You live a great deal too much in the society of women.
And you have contracted two very bad habits in consequence.
You have learnt to talk nonsense seriously, and you have got
into a way of telling fibs for the pleasure of telling them.
You can't go straight with your lady-worshippers. I mean to make
you go straight with me. Come, and sit down. I am brimful
of downright questions; and I expect you to be brimful of
She actually dragged him across the room to a chair by the window,
where the light would fall on his face. I deeply feel being obliged
to report such language, and to describe such conduct. But, hemmed in,
as I am, between Mr. Franklin Blake's cheque on one side and my own sacred
regard for truth on the other, what am I to do? I looked at my aunt.
She sat unmoved; apparently in no way disposed to interfere.
I had never noticed this kind of torpor in her before. It was, perhaps,
the reaction after the trying time she had had in the country.
Not a pleasant symptom to remark, be it what it might, at dear Lady
Verinder's age, and with dear Lady Verinder's autumnal exuberance
In the meantime, Rachel had settled herself at the window with
our amiable and forbearing--our too forbearing--Mr. Godfrey.
She began the string of questions with which she had threatened him,
taking no more notice of her mother, or of myself, than if we had not
been in the room.
"Have the police done anything, Godfrey?"
"It is certain, I suppose, that the three men who laid the trap for you
were the same three men who afterwards laid the trap for Mr. Luker?"
"Humanly speaking, my dear Rachel, there can be no doubt of it."
"And not a trace of them has been discovered?"
"Not a trace."
"It is thought--is it not?--that these three men are the three Indians
who came to our house in the country."
"Some people think so."
"Do you think so?"
"My dear Rachel, they blindfolded me before I could see their faces.
I know nothing whatever of the matter. How can I offer an opinion
Even the angelic gentleness of Mr. Godfrey was, you see,
beginning to give way at last under the persecution inflicted
on him. Whether unbridled curiosity, or ungovernable dread,
dictated Miss Verinder's questions I do not presume to inquire.
I only report that, on Mr. Godfrey's attempting to rise,
after giving her the answer just described, she actually
took him by the two shoulders, and pushed him back into
his chair--Oh, don't say this was immodest! don't even hint
that the recklessness of guilty terror could alone account
for such conduct as I have described! We must not judge others.
My Christian friends, indeed, indeed, indeed, we must not
She went on with her questions, unabashed. Earnest Biblical students will
perhaps be reminded--as I was reminded--of the blinded children of the devil,
who went on with their orgies, unabashed, in the time before the Flood.
"I want to know something about Mr. Luker, Godfrey."
"I am again unfortunate, Rachel. No man knows less of Mr. Luker than I do."
"You never saw him before you and he met accidentally at the bank?"
"You have seen him since?"
"Yes. We have been examined together, as well as separately,
to assist the police."
"Mr. Luker was robbed of a receipt which he had got from his banker's--
was he not? What was the receipt for?"
"For a valuable gem which he had placed in the safe keeping of the bank."
"That's what the newspapers say. It may be enough for the general reader;
but it is not enough for me. The banker's receipt must have mentioned what
the gem was?"
"The banker's receipt, Rachel--as I have heard it described--
mentioned nothing of the kind. A valuable gem, belonging to
Mr. Luker; deposited by Mr. Luker; sealed with Mr. Luker's seal;
and only to be given up on Mr. Luker's personal application.
That was the form, and that is all I know about it."
She waited a moment, after he had said that. She looked at her mother,
and sighed. She looked back again at Mr. Godfrey, and went on.
"Some of our private affairs, at home," she said, "seem to have got
into the newspapers?"
"I grieve to say, it is so."
"And some idle people, perfect strangers to us, are trying to trace
a connexion between what happened at our house in Yorkshire and what has
happened since, here in London?"
"The public curiosity, in certain quarters, is, I fear,
taking that turn."
"The people who say that the three unknown men who ill-used you
and Mr. Luker are the three Indians, also say that the valuable gem----"
There she stopped. She had become gradually, within the last few moments,
whiter and whiter in the face. The extraordinary blackness of her hair
made this paleness, by contrast, so ghastly to look at, that we all thought
she would faint, at the moment when she checked herself in the middle of
her question. Dear Mr. Godfrey made a second attempt to leave his chair.
My aunt entreated her to say no more. I followed my aunt with a
modest medicinal peace-offering, in the shape of a bottle of salts.
We none of us produced the slightest effect on her. "Godfrey, stay
where you are. Mamma, there is not the least reason to be alarmed
about me. Clack, you're dying to hear the end of it--I won't faint,
expressly to oblige YOU."
Those were the exact words she used--taken down in my diary
the moment I got home. But, oh, don't let us judge!
My Christian friends, don't let us judge!
She turned once more to Mr. Godfrey. With an obstinacy dreadful to see,
she went back again to the place where she had checked herself, and completed
her question in these words:
"I spoke to you, a minute since, about what people were saying
in certain quarters. Tell me plainly, Godfrey, do they any
of them say that Mr. Luker's valuable gem is--the Moonstone?"
As the name of the Indian Diamond passed her lips, I saw a change
come over my admirable friend. His complexion deepened. He lost
the genial suavity of manner which is one of his greatest charms.
A noble indignation inspired his reply.
"They DO say it," he answered. "There are people who don't hesitate
to accuse Mr. Luker of telling a falsehood to serve some private
interests of his own. He has over and over again solemnly declared that,
until this scandal assailed him, he had never even heard of the Moonstone.
And these vile people reply, without a shadow of proof to justify them,
He has his reasons for concealment; we decline to believe him on his oath.
Rachel looked at him very strangely--I can't well describe how--
while he was speaking. When he had done, she said, "Considering that
Mr. Luker is only a chance acquaintance of yours, you take up
his cause, Godfrey, rather warmly."
My gifted friend made her one of the most truly evangelical answers I
ever heard in my life.
"I hope, Rachel, I take up the cause of all oppressed people rather warmly,"
The tone in which those words were spoken might have melted a stone.
But, oh dear, what is the hardness of stone? Nothing, compared to
the hardness of the unregenerate human heart! She sneered.
I blush to record it--she sneered at him to his face.
"Keep your noble sentiments for your Ladies' Committees, Godfrey.
I am certain that the scandal which has assailed Mr. Luker,
has not spared You."
Even my aunt's torpor was roused by those words.
"My dear Rachel," she remonstrated, "you have really no right to say that!"
"I mean no harm, mamma--I mean good. Have a moment's patience with me,
and you will see."
She looked back at Mr. Godfrey, with what appeared to be a sudden
pity for him. She went the length--the very unladylike length--
of taking him by the hand.
"I am certain," she said, "that I have found out the true reason of your
unwillingness to speak of this matter before my mother and before me.
An unlucky accident has associated you in people's minds with Mr. Luker.
You have told me what scandal says of HIM. What does scandal say
Even at the eleventh hour, dear Mr. Godfrey--always ready to return
good for evil--tried to spare her.
"Don't ask me!" he said. "It's better forgotten, Rachel--it is, indeed."
"I WILL hear it!" she cried out, fiercely, at the top of her voice.
"Tell her, Godfrey!" entreated my aunt. "Nothing can do her such harm
as your silence is doing now!"
Mr. Godfrey's fine eyes filled with tears. He cast one last appealing
look at her--and then he spoke the fatal words:
"If you will have it, Rachel--scandal says that the Moonstone is in pledge
to Mr. Luker, and that I am the man who has pawned it."
She started to her feet with a scream. She looked backwards
and forwards from Mr. Godfrey to my aunt, and from my aunt
to Mr. Godfrey, in such a frantic manner that I really thought
she had gone mad.
"Don't speak to me! Don't touch me!" she exclaimed, shrinking back from
all of us (I declare like some hunted animal!) into a corner of the room.
"This is my fault! I must set it right. I have sacrificed myself--
I had a right to do that, if I liked. But to let an innocent man be ruined;
to keep a secret which destroys his character for life--Oh, good God,
it's too horrible! I can't bear it!"
My aunt half rose from her chair, then suddenly sat down again.
She called to me faintly, and pointed to a little phial in her
"Quick!" she whispered. "Six drops, in water. Don't let Rachel see."
Under other circumstances, I should have thought this strange.
There was no time now to think--there was only time to give the medicine.
Dear Mr. Godfrey unconsciously assisted me in concealing what I was about
from Rachel, by speaking composing words to her at the other end of
"Indeed, indeed, you exaggerate," I heard him say. "My reputation stands
too high to be destroyed by a miserable passing scandal like this.
It will be all forgotten in another week. Let us never speak of it again."
She was perfectly inaccessible, even to such generosity as this.
She went on from bad to worse.
"I must, and will, stop it," she said. "Mamma! hear what I say.
Miss Clack! hear what I say. I know the hand that took the Moonstone.
I know--" she laid a strong emphasis on the words; she stamped her foot
in the rage that possessed her--"I KNOW THAT GODFREY ABLEWHITE IS INNOCENT.
Take me to the magistrate, Godfrey! Take me to the magistrate, and I will
My aunt caught me by the hand, and whispered, "Stand between us
for a minute or two. Don't let Rachel see me." I noticed a bluish
tinge in her face which alarmed me. She saw I was startled.
"The drops will put me right in a minute or two," she said, and so
closed her eyes, and waited a little.
While this was going on, I heard dear Mr. Godfrey still gently remonstrating.
"You must not appear publicly in such a thing as this," he sad.
"YOUR reputation, dearest Rachel, is something too pure and too sacred
to be trifled with."
"MY reputation!" She burst out laughing. "Why, I am accused, Godfrey,
as well as you. The best detective officer in England declares that I
have stolen my own Diamond. Ask him what he thinks--and he will tell
you that I have pledged the Moonstone to pay my private debts!"
She stopped, ran across the room--and fell on her knees at her mother's feet.
"Oh mamma! mamma! mamma! I must be mad--mustn't I?--not to own
the truth NOW?" She was too vehement to notice her mother's condition--
she was on her feet again, and back with Mr. Godfrey, in an instant.
"I won't let you--I won't let any innocent man--be accused and disgraced
through my fault. If you won't take me before the magistrate,
draw out a declaration of your innocence on paper, and I will sign it.
Do as I tell you, Godfrey, or I'll write it to the newspapers I'll go out,
and cry it in the streets!"
We will not say this was the language of remorse--we will say it
was the language of hysterics. Indulgent Mr. Godfrey pacified
her by taking a sheet of paper, and drawing out the declaration.
She signed it in a feverish hurry. "Show it everywhere--
don't think of ME," she said, as she gave it to him. "I am afraid,
Godfrey, I have not done you justice, hitherto, in my thoughts.
You are more unselfish--you are a better man than I believed you to be.
Come here when you can, and I will try and repair the wrong I have
She gave him her hand. Alas, for our fallen nature! Alas, for Mr. Godfrey!
He not only forgot himself so far as to kiss her hand--he adopted
a gentleness of tone in answering her which, in such a case, was little
better than a compromise with sin. "I will come, dearest," he said,
"on condition that we don't speak of this hateful subject again."
Never had I seen and heard our Christian Hero to less advantage than on
Before another word could be said by anybody, a thundering knock
at the street door startled us all. I looked through the window,
and saw the World, the Flesh, and the Devil waiting before the house--
as typified in a carriage and horses, a powdered footman,
and three of the most audaciously dressed women I ever beheld in
Rachel started, and composed herself. She crossed the room to her mother.
"They have come to take me to the flower-show," she said.
"One word, mamma, before I go. I have not distressed you,
(Is the bluntness of moral feeling which could ask such a question
as that, after what had just happened, to be pitied or condemned?
I like to lean towards mercy. Let us pity it.)
The drops had produced their effect. My poor aunt's complexion was
like itself again. "No, no, my dear," she said. "Go with our friends,
and enjoy yourself."
Her daughter stooped, and kissed her. I had left the window,
and was near the door, when Rachel approached it to go out.
Another change had come over her--she was in tears. I looked
with interest at the momentary softening of that obdurate heart.
I felt inclined to say a few earnest words. Alas! my well-meant
sympathy only gave offence. "What do you mean by pitying me?"
she asked in a bitter whisper, as she passed to the door.
"Don't you see how happy I am? I'm going to the flower-show, Clack;
and I've got the prettiest bonnet in London." She completed
the hollow mockery of that address by blowing me a kiss--and so left
I wish I could describe in words the compassion I felt for this miserable and
misguided girl. But I am almost as poorly provided with words as with money.
Permit me to say--my heart bled for her.
Returning to my aunt's chair, I observed dear Mr. Godfrey searching
for something softly, here and there, in different parts of the room.
Before I could offer to assist him he had found what he wanted.
He came back to my aunt and me, with his declaration of innocence in
one hand, and with a box of matches in the other.
"Dear aunt, a little conspiracy!" he said. "Dear Miss Clack,
a pious fraud which even your high moral rectitude will excuse!
Will you leave Rachel to suppose that I accept the generous
self-sacrifice which has signed this paper? And will you kindly
bear witness that I destroy it in your presence, before I leave
the house?" He kindled a match, and, lighting the paper,
laid it to burn in a plate on the table. "Any trifling
inconvenience that I may suffer is as nothing," he remarked,
"compared with the importance of preserving that pure name from
the contaminating contact of the world. There! We have reduced
it to a little harmless heap of ashes; and our dear impulsive
Rachel will never know what we have done! How do you feel?
My precious friends, how do you feel? For my poor part, I am as
light-hearted as a boy!"
He beamed on us with his beautiful smile; he held out a hand to my aunt,
and a hand to me. I was too deeply affected by his noble conduct to speak.
I closed my eyes; I put his hand, in a kind of spiritual self-forgetfulness,
to my lips. He murmured a soft remonstrance. Oh the ecstasy, the pure,
unearthly ecstasy of that moment! I sat--I hardly know on what--quite lost
in my own exalted feelings. When I opened my eyes again, it was like
descending from heaven to earth. There was nobody but my aunt in the room.
He had gone.
I should like to stop here--I should like to close my
narrative with the record of Mr. Godfrey's noble conduct.
Unhappily there is more, much more, which the unrelenting
pecuniary pressure of Mr. Blake's cheque obliges me to tell.
The painful disclosures which were to reveal themselves
in my presence, during that Tuesday's visit to Montagu Square,
were not at an end yet.
Finding myself alone with Lady Verinder, I turned naturally
to the subject of her health; touching delicately on the strange
anxiety which she had shown to conceal her indisposition,
and the remedy applied to it, from the observation of her daughter.
My aunt's reply greatly surprised me.
"Drusilla," she said (if I have not already mentioned that my Christian name
is Drusilla, permit me to mention it now), "you are touching quite innocently,
I know--on a very distressing subject."
I rose immediately. Delicacy left me but one alternative--
the alternative, after first making my apologies, of taking
my leave. Lady Verinder stopped me, and insisted on my sitting
"You have surprised a secret," she said, "which I had confided
to my sister Mrs. Ablewhite, and to my lawyer Mr. Bruff,
and to no one else. I can trust in their discretion; and I am sure,
when I tell you the circumstances, I can trust in yours.
Have you any pressing engagement, Drusilla? or is your time
your own this afternoon?"
It is needless to say that my time was entirely at my aunt's disposal.
"Keep me company then," she said, "for another hour.
I have something to tell you which I believe you will be sorry
to hear. And I shall have a service to ask of you afterwards,
if you don't object to assist me."
It is again needless to say that, so far from objecting,
I was all eagerness to assist her.
"You can wait here," she went on, "till Mr. Bruff comes at five.
And you can be one of the witnesses, Drusilla, when I sign
Her Will! I thought of the drops which I had seen in her work-box. I
thought of the bluish tinge which I had noticed in her complexion.
A light which was not of this world--a light shining prophetically
from an unmade grave--dawned on my mind. My aunt's secret was a secret
Consideration for poor Lady Verinder forbade me even to hint that I
had guessed the melancholy truth, before she opened her lips.
I waited her pleasure in silence; and, having privately arranged
to say a few sustaining words at the first convenient opportunity,
felt prepared for any duty that could claim me, no matter how painful it
"I have been seriously ill, Drusilla, for some time past," my aunt began.
"And, strange to say, without knowing it myself."
I thought of the thousands and thousands of perishing human creatures
who were all at that moment spiritually ill, without knowing it themselves.
And I greatly feared that my poor aunt might be one of the number.
"Yes, dear," I said, sadly. "Yes."
"I brought Rachel to London, as you know, for medical advice," she went on.
"I thought it right to consult two doctors."
Two doctors! And, oh me (in Rachel's state), not one clergyman!
"Yes, dear?" I said once more. "Yes?"
"One of the two medical men," proceeded my aunt, "was a stranger to me.
The other had been an old friend of my husband's, and had always felt
a sincere interest in me for my husband's sake. After prescribing
for Rachel, he said he wished to speak to me privately in another room.
I expected, of course, to receive some special directions for the
management of my daughter's health. To my surprise, he took me gravely
by the hand, and said, "I have been looking at you, Lady Verinder,
with a professional as well as a personal interest. You are, I am afraid,
far more urgently in need of medical advice than your daughter."
He put some questions to me, which I was at first inclined to treat
lightly enough, until I observed that my answers distressed him.
It ended in his making an appointment to come and see me, accompanied by a
medical friend, on the next day, at an hour when Rachel would not be at home.
The result of that visit--most kindly and gently conveyed to me--
satisfied both the physicians that there had been precious time lost,
which could never be regained, and that my case had now passed beyond
the reach of their art. For more than two years I have been suffering
under an insidious form of heart disease, which, without any symptoms
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