The Moonstone

Part 9 out of 12

the small drawing-room. As I laid my hand on the door opposite,
I heard a few plaintive chords struck on the piano in the room within.
She had often idled over the instrument in this way, when I was staying
at her mother's house. I was obliged to wait a little, to steady myself.
The past and present rose side by side, at that supreme moment--and the
contrast shook me.

After the lapse of a minute, I roused my manhood, and opened the door.


At the moment when I showed myself in the doorway, Rachel rose from the piano.

I closed the door behind me. We confronted each other in silence,
with the full length of the room between us. The movement she had made
in rising appeared to be the one exertion of which she was capable.
All use of every other faculty, bodily or mental, seemed to be merged in
the mere act of looking at me.

A fear crossed my mind that I had shown myself too suddenly.
I advanced a few steps towards her. I said gently, "Rachel!"

The sound of my voice brought the life back to her limbs,
and the colour to her face. She advanced, on her side,
still without speaking. Slowly, as if acting under some influence
independent of her own will, she came nearer and nearer to me;
the warm dusky colour flushing her cheeks, the light of
reviving intelligence brightening every instant in her eyes.
I forgot the object that had brought me into her presence;
I forgot the vile suspicion that rested on my good name;
I forgot every consideration, past, present, and future, which I
was bound to remember. I saw nothing but the woman I loved coming
nearer and nearer to me. She trembled; she stood irresolute.
I could resist it no longer--I caught her in my arms, and covered her
face with kisses.

There was a moment when I thought the kisses were returned;
a moment when it seemed as if she, too might have forgotten.
Almost before the idea could shape itself in my mind,
her first voluntary action made me feel that she remembered.
With a cry which was like a cry of horror--with a strength
which I doubt if I could have resisted if I had tried--
she thrust me back from her. I saw merciless anger in her eyes;
I saw merciless contempt on her lips. She looked me over,
from head to foot, as she might have looked at a stranger who had
insulted her.

"You coward!" she said. "You mean, miserable, heartless coward!"

Those were her first words! The most unendurable reproach that a woman can
address to a man, was the reproach that she picked out to address to Me.

"I remember the time, Rachel," I said, "when you could have
told me that I had offended you, in a worthier way than that.
I beg your pardon."

Something of the bitterness that I felt may have communicated
itself to my voice. At the first words of my reply, her eyes,
which had been turned away the moment before, looked back
at me unwillingly. She answered in a low tone, with a sullen
submission of manner which was quite new in my experience
of her.

"Perhaps there is some excuse for me," she said. "After what you have done,
is it a manly action, on your part, to find your way to me as you have found
it to-day? It seems a cowardly experiment, to try an experiment on my
weakness for you. It seems a cowardly surprise, to surprise me into letting
you kiss me. But that is only a woman's view. I ought to have known it
couldn't be your view. I should have done better if I had controlled myself,
and said nothing."

The apology was more unendurable than the insult. The most degraded
man living would have felt humiliated by it.

"If my honour was not in your hands," I said, "I would leave you this instant,
and never see you again. You have spoken of what I have done. What have
I done?"

"What have you done! YOU ask that question of ME?"

"I ask it."

"I have kept your infamy a secret," she answered.
"And I have suffered the consequences of concealing it.
Have I no claim to be spared the insult of your asking me
what you have done? Is ALL sense of gratitude dead in you?
You were once a gentleman. You were once dear to my mother,
and dearer still to me----"

Her voice failed her. She dropped into a chair, and turned her back on me,
and covered her face with her hands.

I waited a little before I trusted myself to say any more.
In that moment of silence, I hardly know which I felt
most keenly--the sting which her contempt had planted in me,
or the proud resolution which shut me out from all community
with her distress.

"If you will not speak first," I said, "I must. I have come here
with something serious to say to you. Will you do me the common
justice of listening while I say it?"

She neither moved, nor answered. I made no second appeal to her;
I never advanced an inch nearer to her chair. With a pride
which was as obstinate as her pride, I told her of my discovery
at the Shivering Sand, and of all that had led to it.
The narrative, of necessity, occupied some little time.
From beginning to end, she never looked round at me, and she never
uttered a word.

I kept my temper. My whole future depended, in all probability,
on my not losing possession of myself at that moment.
The time had come to put Mr. Bruff's theory to the test.
In the breathless interest of trying that experiment, I moved round
so as to place myself in front of her.

"I have a question to ask you," I said. "It obliges me to refer again
to a painful subject. Did Rosanna Spearman show you the nightgown.
Yes, or No?"

She started to her feet; and walked close up to me of her own accord.
Her eyes looked me searchingly in the face, as if to read something there
which they had never read yet.

"Are you mad?" she asked.

I still restrained myself. I said quietly, "Rachel, will you answer
my question?"

She went on, without heeding me.

"Have you some object to gain which I don't understand?
Some mean fear about the future, in which I am concerned?
They say your father's death has made you a rich man.
Have you come here to compensate me for the loss of my Diamond?
And have you heart enough left to feel ashamed of your errand?
Is THAT the secret of your pretence of innocence,
and your story about Rosanna Spearman? Is there
a motive of shame at the bottom of all the falsehood,
this time?"

I stopped her there. I could control myself no longer.

"You have done me an infamous wrong!" I broke out hotly.
"You suspect me of stealing your Diamond. I have a right to know,
and I WILL know, the reason why!"

"Suspect you!" she exclaimed, her anger rising with mine.

The revelation which burst upon me in those words, the overthrow
which they instantly accomplished of the whole view of the case on
which Mr. Bruff had relied, struck me helpless. Innocent as I was,
I stood before her in silence. To her eyes, to any eyes, I must
have looked like a man overwhelmed by the discovery of his own guilt.

She drew back from the spectacle of my humiliation and of her triumph.
The sudden silence that had fallen upon me seemed to frighten her.
"I spared you, at the time," she said. "I would have spared you now,
if you had not forced me to speak." She moved away as if to leave the room--
and hesitated before she got to the door. "Why did you come here to
humiliate yourself?" she asked. "Why did you come here to humiliate me?"
She went on a few steps, and paused once more. "For God's sake,
say something!" she exclaimed, passionately. "If you have any mercy left,
don't let me degrade myself in this way! Say something--and drive me out of
the room!"

I advanced towards her, hardly conscious of what I was doing.
I had possibly some confused idea of detaining her until she
had told me more. From the moment when I knew that the evidence
on which I stood condemned in Rachel's mind, was the evidence of
her own eyes, nothing--not even my conviction of my own innocence--
was clear to my mind. I took her by the hand; I tried to speak
firmly and to the purpose. All I could say was, "Rachel, you once
loved me."

She shuddered, and looked away from me. Her hand lay powerless
and trembling in mine. Let go of it," she said faintly.

My touch seemed to have the same effect on her which the sound
of my voice had produced when I first entered the room.
After she had said the word which called me a coward,
after she had made the avowal which branded me as a thief--
while her hand lay in mine I was her master still!

I drew her gently back into the middle of the room.
I seated her by the side of me. "Rachel," I said, "I can't
explain the contradiction in what I am going to tell you.
I can only speak the truth as you have spoken it. You saw me--
with your own eyes, you saw me take the Diamond. Before God who
hears us, I declare that I now know I took it for the first time!
Do you doubt me still?"

She had neither heeded nor heard me. "Let go of my hand,"
she repeated faintly. That was her only answer. Her head sank
on my shoulder; and her hand unconsciously closed on mine,
at the moment when she asked me to release it.

I refrained from pressing the question. But there my forbearance stopped.
My chance of ever holding up my head again among honest men depended on my
chance of inducing her to make her disclosure complete. The one hope left
for me was the hope that she might have overlooked something in the chain
of evidence some mere trifle, perhaps, which might nevertheless, under careful
investigation, be made the means of vindicating my innocence in the end.
I own I kept possession of her hand. I own I spoke to her with all that I
could summon back of the sympathy and confidence of the bygone time.

"I want to ask you something," I said. "I want you to tell me everything
that happened, from the time when we wished each other good night,
to the time when you saw me take the Diamond."

She lifted her head from my shoulder, and made an effort to release her hand.
"Oh, why go back to it!" she said. "Why go back to it!"

"I will tell you why, Rachel. You are the victim, and I am the victim,
of some monstrous delusion which has worn the mask of truth.
If we look at what happened on the night of your birthday together,
we may end in understanding each other yet."

Her head dropped back on my shoulder. The tears gathered
in her eyes, and fell slowly over her cheeks. "Oh!" she said,
"have I never had that hope? Have I not tried to see it,
as you are trying now?"

"You have tried by yourself," I answered. "You have not tried with me
to help you."

Those words seemed to awaken in her something of the hope which I felt myself
when I uttered them. She replied to my questions with more than docility--
she exerted her intelligence; she willingly opened her whole mind to me.

"Let us begin," I said, "with what happened after we had wished
each other good night. Did you go to bed? or did you sit up?"

"I went to bed."

"Did you notice the time? Was it late?"

"Not very. About twelve o'clock, I think."

"Did you fall asleep?"

"No. I couldn't sleep that night."

"You were restless?"

"I was thinking of you."

The answer almost unmanned me. Something in the tone,
even more than in the words, went straight to my heart.
It was only after pausing a little first that I was able to
go on.

"Had you any light in your room?" I asked.

"None--until I got up again, and lit my candle."

"How long was that, after you had gone to bed?"

"About an hour after, I think. About one o'clock."

"Did you leave your bedroom?"

"I was going to leave it. I had put on my dressing-gown;
and I was going into my sitting-room to get a book----"

"Had you opened your bedroom door?"

"I had just opened it."

"But you had not gone into the sitting-room?"

"No--I was stopped from going into it."

"What stopped you?

"I saw a light, under the door; and I heard footsteps approaching it."

"Were you frightened?"

"Not then. I knew my poor mother was a bad sleeper;
and I remembered that she had tried hard, that evening,
to persuade me to let her take charge of my Diamond.
She was unreasonably anxious about it, as I thought;
and I fancied she was coming to me to see if I was in bed,
and to speak to me about the Diamond again, if she found that I
was up."

"What did you do?"

"I blew out my candle, so that she might think I was in bed.
I was unreasonable, on my side--I was determined to keep my Diamond
in the place of my own choosing."

"After blowing out the candle, did you go back to bed?"

"I had no time to go back. At the moment when I blew the candle out,
the sitting-room door opened, and I saw----"

"You saw?"


"Dressed as usual?"


"In my nightgown?"

"In your nightgown--with your bedroom candle in your hand."



"Could you see my face?"



"Quite plainly. The candle in your hand showed it to me."

"Were my eyes open?"


"Did you notice anything strange in them? Anything like a fixed,
vacant expression?"

"Nothing of the sort. Your eyes were bright--brighter than usual.
You looked about in the room, as if you knew you were where you ought
not to be, and as if you were afraid of being found out."

"Did you observe one thing when I came into the room--
did you observe how I walked?"

"You walked as you always do. You came in as far as the middle of the room--
and then you stopped and looked about you."

"What did you do, on first seeing me?"

"I could do nothing. I was petrified. I couldn't speak,
I couldn't call out, I couldn't even move to shut my door."

"Could I see you, where you stood?"

"You might certainly have seen me. But you never looked towards me.
It's useless to ask the question. I am sure you never saw me."

"How are you sure?"

"Would you have taken the Diamond? would you have acted as you
did afterwards? would you be here now--if you had seen that I was
awake and looking at you? Don't make me talk of that part of it!
I want to answer you quietly. Help me to keep as calm as I can.
Go on to something else."

She was right--in every way, right. I went on to other things.

"What did I do, after I had got to the middle of the room,
and had stopped there?"

"You turned away, and went straight to the corner near the window--
where my Indian cabinet stands."

"When I was at the cabinet, my back must have been turned towards you.
How did you see what I was doing?"

"When you moved, I moved."

"So as to see what I was about with my hands?"

"There are three glasses in my sitting-room. As you stood there,
I saw all that you did, reflected in one of them."

"What did you see?"

"You put your candle on the top of the cabinet. You opened, and shut,
one drawer after another, until you came to the drawer in which I
had put my Diamond. You looked at the open drawer for a moment.
And then you put your hand in, and took the Diamond out."

"How do you know I took the Diamond out?"

"I saw your hand go into the drawer. And I saw the gleam of the stone
between your finger and thumb, when you took your hand out."

"Did my hand approach the drawer again--to close it, for instance?"

"No. You had the Diamond in your right hand; and you took the candle
from the top of the cabinet with your left hand."

"Did I look about me again, after that?"


"Did I leave the room immediately?"

"No. You stood quite still, for what seemed a long time.
I saw your face sideways in the glass. You looked like a
man thinking, and dissatisfied with his own thoughts."

"What happened next?"

"You roused yourself on a sudden, and you went straight out of the room."

"Did I close the door after me?"

"No. You passed out quickly into the passage, and left the door open."

"And then?"

"Then, your light disappeared, and the sound of your steps died away,
and I was left alone in the dark."

"Did nothing happen--from that time, to the time when the whole house
knew that the Diamond was lost?"


"Are you sure of that? Might you not have been asleep a part of the time?"

"I never slept. I never went back to my bed. Nothing happened until
Penelope came in, at the usual time in the morning."

I dropped her hand, and rose, and took a turn in the room.
Every question that I could put had been answered.
Every detail that I could desire to know had been placed before me.
I had even reverted to the idea of sleep-walking, and the idea
of intoxication; and, again, the worthlessness of the one theory
and the other had been proved--on the authority, this time,
of the witness who had seen me. What was to be said next? what
was to be done next? There rose the horrible fact of the Theft--
the one visible, tangible object that confronted me, in the midst
of the impenetrable darkness which enveloped all besides!
Not a glimpse of light to guide me, when I had possessed
myself of Rosanna Spearman's secret at the Shivering Sand.
And not a glimpse of light now, when I had appealed to Rachel
herself, and had heard the hateful story of the night from her
own lips.

She was the first, this time, to break the silence.

"Well?" she said, "you have asked, and I have answered.
You have made me hope something from all this, because you hoped
something from it. What have you to say now?"

The tone in which she spoke warned me that my influence over her was a lost
influence once more.

"We were to look at what happened on my birthday night, together,"
she went an; "and we were then to understand each other. Have we done that?"

She waited pitilessly for my reply. In answering her I committed
a fatal error--I let the exasperating helplessness of my situation get
the better of my self-control. Rashly and uselessly, I reproached her
for the silence which had kept me until that moment in ignorance of the truth.

"If you had spoken when you ought to have spoken," I began;
"if you had done me the common justice to explain yourself----"

She broke in on me with a cry of fury. The few words I had said
seemed to have lashed her on the instant into a frenzy of rage.

"Explain myself!" she repeated. "Oh! is there another man
like this in the world? I spare him, when my heart is breaking;
I screen him when my own character is at stake; and HE--
of all human beings, HE--turns on me now, and tells me
that I ought to have explained myself! After believing
in him as I did, after loving him as I did, after thinking
of him by day, and dreaming of him by night--he wonders I
didn't charge him with his disgrace the first time we met:
"My heart's darling, you are a Thief! My hero whom I love
and honour, you have crept into my room under cover of the night,
and stolen my Diamond!" That is what I ought to have said.
You villain, you mean, mean, mean villain, I would have lost
fifty diamonds, rather than see your face lying to me, as I see it
lying now!"

I took up my hat. In mercy to HER--yes! I can honestly say it--
in mercy to HER, I turned away without a word, and opened the door
by which I had entered the room.

She followed, and snatched the door out of my hand; she closed it,
and pointed back to the place that I had left.

"No!" she said. "Not yet! It seems that I owe a justification
of my conduct to you. You shall stay and hear it. Or you shall
stoop to the lowest infamy of all, and force your way out."

It wrung my heart to see her; it wrung my heart to hear her.
I answered by a sign--it was all I could do--that I submitted
myself to her will.

The crimson flush of anger began to fade out of her face, as I went back,
and took my chair in silence. She waited a little, and steadied herself.
When she went on, but one sign of feeling was discernible in her.
She spoke without looking at me. Her hands were fast clasped in her lap,
and her eyes were fixed on the ground.

"I ought to have done you the common justice to explain myself," she said,
repeating my own words. "You shall see whether I did try to do you justice,
or not. I told you just now that I never slept, and never returned to my bed,
after you had left my sitting-room. It's useless to trouble you by dwelling
on what I thought--you would not understand my thoughts--I will only tell
you what I did, when time enough had passed to help me to recover myself.
I refrained from alarming the house, and telling everybody what had happened--
as I ought to have done. In spite of what I had seen, I was fond enough
of you to believe--no matter what!--any impossibility, rather than admit it to
my own mind that you were deliberately a thief. I thought and thought--and I
ended in writing to you."

"I never received the letter."

"I know you never received it. Wait a little, and you shall
hear why. My letter would have told you nothing openly.
It would not have ruined you for life, if it had fallen
into some other person's hands. It would only have said--
in a manner which you yourself could not possibly have mistaken--
that I had reason to know you were in debt, and that it
was in my experience and in my mother's experience of you,
that you were not very discreet, or very scrupulous about how
you got money when you wanted it. You would have remembered
the visit of the French lawyer, and you would have known what I
referred to. If you had read on with some interest after that,
you would have come to an offer I had to make to you--
the offer, privately (not a word, mind, to be said openly
about it between us!), of the loan of as large a sum of money
as I could get.--And I would have got it!" she exclaimed,
her colour beginning to rise again, and her eyes looking up
at me once more. "I would have pledged the Diamond myself,
if I could have got the money in no other way!
In those words I wrote to you. Wait! I did more than that.
I arranged with Penelope to give you the letter when nobody
was near. I planned to shut myself into my bedroom, and to
have the sitting-room left open and empty all the morning.
And I hoped--with all my heart and soul I hoped!--that you would
take the opportunity, and put the Diamond back secretly in
the drawer."

I attempted to speak. She lifted her hand impatiently, and stopped me.
In the rapid alternations of her temper, her anger was beginning to
rise again. She got up from her chair, and approached me.

"I know what you are going to say," she went on. "You are
going to remind me again that you never received my letter.
I can tell you why. I tore it up.

"For what reason?" I asked.

"For the best of reasons. I preferred tearing it up to throwing it
away upon such a man as you! What was the first news that reached me
in the morning? Just as my little plan was complete, what did I hear?
I heard that you--you!!!--were the foremost person in the house
in fetching the police. You were the active man; you were the leader;
you were working harder than any of them to recover the jewel!
You even carried your audacity far enough to ask to speak to ME
about the loss of the Diamond--the Diamond which you yourself
had stolen; the Diamond which was all the time in your own hands!
After that proof of your horrible falseness and cunning, I tore up
my letter. But even then--even when I was maddened by the searching
and questioning of the policeman, whom you had sent in--even then,
there was some infatuation in my mind which wouldn't let me give you up.
I said to myself, "He has played his vile farce before everybody
else in the house. Let me try if he can play it before me."
Somebody told me you were on the terrace. I went down to the terrace.
I forced myself to look at you; I forced myself to speak to you. Have you
forgotten what I said?"

I might have answered that I remembered every word of it.
But what purpose, at that moment, would the answer have served?

How could I tell her that what she had said had astonished me,
had distressed me, had suggested to me that she was in a state
of dangerous nervous excitement, had even roused a moment's
doubt in my mind whether the loss of the jewel was as much
a mystery to her as to the rest of us--but had never once given
me so much as a glimpse at the truth? Without the shadow
of a proof to produce in vindication of my innocence, how could
I persuade her that I knew no more than the veriest stranger
could have known of what was really in her thoughts when she
spoke to me on the terrace?

"It may suit your convenience to forget; it suits my convenience to remember,"
she went on. "I know what I said--for I considered it with myself, before I
said it. I gave you one opportunity after another of owning the truth.
I left nothing unsaid that I COULD say--short of actually telling you that I
knew you had committed the theft. And all the return you made, was to look at
me with your vile pretence of astonishment, and your false face of innocence--
just as you have looked at me to-day; just as you are looking at me now!
I left you, that morning, knowing you at last for what you were--for what you
are--as base a wretch as ever walked the earth!"

"If you had spoken out at the time, you might have left me,
Rachel, knowing that you had cruelly wronged an innocent man."

"If I had spoken out before other people," she retorted, with another
burst of indignation, "you would have been disgraced for life!
If I had spoken out to no ears but yours, you would have denied it,
as you are denying it now! Do you think I should have believed you?
Would a man hesitate at a lie, who had done what I saw YOU do--
who had behaved about it afterwards, as I saw YOU behave?
I tell you again, I shrank from the horror of hearing you lie,
after the horror of seeing you thieve. You talk as if this
was a misunderstanding which a few words might have set right!
Well! the misunderstanding is at an end. Is the thing set right?
No! the thing is just where it was. I don't believe you NOW!
I don't believe you found the nightgown, I don't believe in
Rosanna Spearman's letter, I don't believe a word you have said.
You stole it--I saw you! You affected to help the police--I saw you!
You pledged the Diamond to the money-lender in London--I am sure of it!
You cast the suspicion of your disgrace (thanks to my base silence!)
on an innocent man! You fled to the Continent with your plunder
the next morning! After all that vileness, there was but one thing
more you COULD do. You could come here with a last falsehood
on your lips--you could come here, and tell me that I have wronged

If I had stayed a moment more, I know not what words might have escaped
me which I should have remembered with vain repentance and regret.
I passed by her, and opened the door for the second time.
For the second time--with the frantic perversity of a roused woman--
she caught me by the arm, and barred my way out.

"Let me go, Rachel" I said. "It will be better for both of us.
Let me go."

The hysterical passion swelled in her bosom--her quickened convulsive
breathing almost beat on my face, as she held me back at the door.

"Why did you come here?" she persisted, desperately. "I ask you again--
why did you come here? Are you afraid I shall expose you?
Now you are a rich man, now you have got a place in the world,
now you may marry the best lady in the land--are you afraid I shall
say the words which I have never said yet to anybody but you?
I can't say the words! I can't expose you! I am worse, if worse
can be, than you are yourself." Sobs and tears burst from her.
She struggled with them fiercely; she held me more and more firmly.
"I can't tear you out of my heart," she said, "even now!
You may trust in the shameful, shameful weakness which can only
struggle against you in this way!" She suddenly let go of me--
she threw up her hands, and wrung them frantically in the air.
"Any other woman living would shrink from the disgrace of touching him!"
she exclaimed. "Oh, God! I despise myself even more heartily than I
despise HIM!"

The tears were forcing their way into my eyes in spite of me--
the horror of it was to be endured no longer.

"You shall know that you have wronged me, yet," I said.
"Or you shall never see me again!"

With those words, I left her. She started up from the chair
on which she had dropped the moment before: she started up--
the noble creature!--and followed me across the outer room,
with a last merciful word at parting.

"Franklin!" she said, "I forgive you! Oh, Franklin, Franklin! we
shall never meet again. Say you forgive ME!"

I turned, so as to let my face show her that I was past speaking--
I turned, and waved my hand, and saw her dimly, as in a vision,
through the tears that had conquered me at last.

The next moment, the worst bitterness of it was over.
I was out in the garden again. I saw her, and heard her,
no more.


Late that evening, I was surprised at my lodgings by a visit from Mr. Bruff.

There was a noticeable change in the lawyer's manner.
It had lost its usual confidence and spirit. He shook hands
with me, for the first time in his life, in silence.

"Are you going back to Hampstead?" I asked, by way of saying something.

"I have just left Hampstead," he answered. "I know, Mr. Franklin,
that you have got at the truth at last. But, I tell you plainly,
if I could have foreseen the price that was to be paid for it,
I should have preferred leaving you in the dark."

"You have seen Rachel?"

"I have come here after taking her back to Portland Place;
it was impossible to let her return in the carriage by herself.
I can hardly hold you responsible--considering that you
saw her in my house and by my permission--for the shock
that this unlucky interview has inflicted on her. All I
can do is to provide against a repetition of the mischief.
She is young--she has a resolute spirit--she will get over this,
with time and rest to help her. I want to be assured that you
will do nothing to hinder her recovery. May I depend on your
making no second attempt to see her--except with my sanction
and approval?"

"After what she has suffered, and after what I have suffered,"
I said, "you may rely on me."

"I have your promise?"

"You have my promise."

Mr. Bruff looked relieved. He put down his hat, and drew his chair nearer
to mine.

"That's settled!" he said. "Now, about the future--your future, I mean.
To my mind, the result of the extraordinary turn which the matter has
now taken is briefly this. In the first place, we are sure that Rachel
has told you the whole truth, as plainly as words can tell it.
In the second place--though we know that there must be some dreadful
mistake somewhere--we can hardly blame her for believing you to be guilty,
on the evidence of her own senses; backed, as that evidence has been,
by circumstances which appear, on the face of them, to tell dead
against you."

There I interposed. "I don't blame Rachel," I said.
"I only regret that she could not prevail on herself to speak
more plainly to me at the time."

"You might as well regret that Rachel is not somebody else,"
rejoined Mr. Bruff. "And even then, I doubt if a girl
of any delicacy, whose heart had been set on marrying you,
could have brought herself to charge you to your face with being
a thief. Anyhow, it was not in Rachel's nature to do it.
In a very different matter to this matter of yours--
which placed her, however, in a position not altogether
unlike her position towards you--I happen to know that she
was influenced by a similar motive to the motive which actuated
her conduct in your case. Besides, as she told me herself,
on our way to town this evening, if she had spoken plainly,
she would no more have believed your denial then than she
believes it now. What answer can you make to that?
There is no answer to be made to it. Come, come, Mr. Franklin!
my view of the case has been proved to be all wrong,
I admit--but, as things are now, my advice may be worth having
for all that. I tell you plainly, we shall be wasting our time,
and cudgelling our brains to no purpose, if we attempt to try back,
and unravel this frightful complication from the beginning.
Let us close our minds resolutely to all that happened last year
at Lady Verinder's country house; and let us look to what we CAN
discover in the future, instead of to what we can NOT discover in
the past."

"Surely you forget," I said, "that the whole thing is essentially
a matter of the past--so far as I am concerned?"

"Answer me this," retorted Mr. Bruff. "Is the Moonstone at the bottom
of all the mischief--or is it not?"

"It is--of course."

"Very good. What do we believe was done with the Moonstone,
when it was taken to London?"

"It was pledged to Mr. Luker."

"We know that you are not the person who pledged it.
Do we know who did?"


"Where do we believe the Moonstone to be now?"

"Deposited in the keeping of Mr. Luker's bankers."

"Exactly. Now observe. We are already in the month of June.
Towards the end of the month (I can't be particular to a day)
a year will have elapsed from the time when we believe the jewel
to have been pledged. There is a chance--to say the least--
that the person who pawned it, may be prepared to redeem
it when the year's time has expired. If he redeems it,
Mr. Luker must himself--according to the terms of his
own arrangement--take the Diamond out of his banker's hands.
Under these circumstances, I propose setting a watch at the bank,
as the present month draws to an end, and discovering who the
person is to whom Mr. Luker restores the Moonstone. Do you see
it now?"

I admitted (a little unwillingly) that the idea was a new one,
at any rate.

"It's Mr. Murthwaite's idea quite as much as mine,"
said Mr. Bruff. "It might have never entered my head,
but for a conversation we had together some time since.
If Mr. Murthwaite is right, the Indians are likely to be on
the lookout at the bank, towards the end of the month too--
and something serious may come of it. What comes of it
doesn't matter to you and me except as it may help us to lay
our hands on the mysterious Somebody who pawned the Diamond.
That person, you may rely on it, is responsible (I don't
pretend to know how) for the position in which you stand
at this moment; and that person alone can set you right in
Rachel's estimation."

"I can't deny," I said, "that the plan you propose meets the difficulty
in a way that is very daring, and very ingenious, and very new. But----"

"But you have an objection to make?"

"Yes. My objection is, that your proposal obliges us to wait."

"Granted. As I reckon the time, it requires you to wait about a fortnight--
more or less. Is that so very long?"

"It's a life-time, Mr. Bruff, in such a situation as mine.
My existence will be simply unendurable to me, unless I do
something towards clearing my character at once."

"Well, well, I understand that. Have you thought yet of what you can do?"

"I have thought of consulting Sergeant Cuff."

"He has retired from the police. It's useless to expect the Sergeant
to help you."

"I know where to find him; and I can but try."

"Try," said Mr. Bruff, after a moment's consideration.
"The case has assumed such an extraordinary aspect since Sergeant
Cuff's time, that you may revive his interest in the inquiry.
Try, and let me hear the result. In the meanwhile,"
he continued, rising, "if you make no discoveries between this,
and the end of the month, am I free to try, on my side,
what can be done by keeping a lookout at the bank?"

"Certainly," I answered--"unless I relieve you of all necessity for trying
the experiment in the interval."

Mr. Bruff smiled, and took up his hat.

"Tell Sergeant Cuff," he rejoined, "that I say the discovery of the truth
depends on the discovery of the person who pawned the Diamond. And let me
hear what the Sergeant's experience says to that."

So we parted.

Early the next morning, I set forth for the little town of Dorking--
the place of Sergeant Cuff's retirement, as indicated to me
by Betteredge.

Inquiring at the hotel, I received the necessary directions
for finding the Sergeant's cottage. It was approached
by a quiet bye-road, a little way out of the town, and it
stood snugly in the middle of its own plot of garden ground,
protected by a good brick wall at the back and the sides,
and by a high quickset hedge in front. The gate, ornamented at
the upper part by smartly-painted trellis-work, was locked.
After ringing at the bell, I peered through the trellis-work,
and saw the great Cuff's favourite flower everywhere; blooming in
his garden, clustering over his door, looking in at his windows.
Far from the crimes and the mysteries of the great city,
the illustrious thief-taker was placidly living out the last Sybarite
years of his life, smothered in roses!

A decent elderly woman opened the gate to me, and at once annihilated
all the hopes I had built on securing the assistance of Sergeant Cuff.
He had started, only the day before, on a journey to Ireland.

"Has he gone there on business?" I asked.

The woman smiled. "He has only one business now, sir," she said;
"and that's roses. Some great man's gardener in Ireland has found
out something new in the growing of roses--and Mr. Cuff's away to
inquire into it."

"Do you know when he will be back?"

"It's quite uncertain, sir. Mr. Cuff said he should come back directly,
or be away some time, just according as he found the new discovery
worth nothing, or worth looking into. If you have any message to leave
for him, I'll take care, sir, that he gets it."

I gave her my card, having first written on it in pencil:
"I have something to say about the Moonstone. Let me hear
from you as soon as you get back." That done, there was
nothing left but to submit to circumstances, and return
to London.

In the irritable condition of my mind, at the time of which I am now writing,
the abortive result of my journey to the Sergeant's cottage simply aggravated
the restless impulse in me to be doing something. On the day of my return
from Dorking, I determined that the next morning should find me bent on
a new effort at forcing my way, through all obstacles, from the darkness
to the light.

What form was my next experiment to take?

If the excellent Betteredge had been present while I was considering
that question, and if he had been let into the secret of my thoughts,
he would, no doubt, have declared that the German side of me was,
on this occasion, my uppermost side. To speak seriously, it is perhaps
possible that my German training was in some degree responsible for
the labyrinth of useless speculations in which I now involved myself.
For the greater part of the night, I sat smoking, and building up theories,
one more profoundly improbable than another. When I did get to sleep,
my waking fancies pursued me in dreams. I rose the next morning,
with Objective-Subjective and Subjective-Objective inextricably entangled
together in my mind; and I began the day which was to witness my next effort
at practical action of some kind, by doubting whether I had any sort
of right (on purely philosophical grounds) to consider any sort of thing
(the Diamond included) as existing at all.

How long I might have remained lost in the mist of my own metaphysics,
if I had been left to extricate myself, it is impossible for me to say.
As the event proved, accident came to my rescue, and happily delivered me.
I happened to wear, that morning, the same coat which I had worn on the day
of my interview with Rachel. Searching for something else in one of
the pockets, I came upon a crumpled piece of paper, and, taking it out,
found Betteredge's forgotten letter in my hand.

It seemed hard on my good old friend to leave him without a reply.
I went to my writing-table, and read his letter again.

A letter which has nothing of the slightest importance in it,
is not always an easy letter to answer. Betteredge's present
effort at corresponding with me came within this category.
Mr. Candy's assistant, otherwise Ezra Jennings, had told
his master that he had seen me; and Mr. Candy, in his turn,
wanted to see me and say something to me, when I was next in
the neighbourhood of Frizinghall. What was to be said in answer
to that, which would be worth the paper it was written on?
I sat idly drawing likenesses from memory of Mr. Candy's
remarkable-looking assistant, on the sheet of paper which I
had vowed to dedicate to Betteredge--until it suddenly
occurred to me that here was the irrepressible Ezra Jennings
getting in my way again! I threw a dozen portraits, at least,
of the man with the piebald hair (the hair in every case,
remarkably like), into the waste-paper basket--and then
and there, wrote my answer to Betteredge. It was a perfectly
commonplace letter--but it had one excellent effect on me.
The effort of writing a few sentences, in plain English,
completely cleared my mind of the cloudy nonsense which had filled it
since the previous day.

Devoting myself once more to the elucidation of the impenetrable
puzzle which my own position presented to me, I now tried to meet
the difficulty by investigating it from a plainly practical point of view.
The events of the memorable night being still unintelligible to me,
I looked a little farther back, and searched my memory of the earlier
hours of the birthday for any incident which might prove of some
assistance to me in finding the clue.

Had anything happened while Rachel and I were finishing the painted
door? or, later, when I rode over to Frizinghall? or afterwards,
when I went back with Godfrey Ablewhite and his sisters? or,
later again, when I put the Moonstone into Rachel's hands? or,
later still, when the company came, and we all assembled round
the dinner-table? My memory disposed of that string of questions
readily enough, until I came to the last. Looking back at the social
event of the birthday dinner, I found myself brought to a standstill
at the outset of the inquiry. I was not even capable of accurately
remembering the number of the guests who had sat at the same table
with me.

To feel myself completely at fault here, and to conclude, thereupon,
that the incidents of the dinner might especially repay the trouble of
investigating them, formed parts of the same mental process, in my case.
I believe other people, in a similar situation, would have reasoned as I did.
When the pursuit of our own interests causes us to become objects of
inquiry to ourselves, we are naturally suspicious of what we don't know.
Once in possession of the names of the persons who had been present at
the dinner, I resolved--as a means of enriching the deficient resources
of my own memory--to appeal to the memory of the rest of the guests;
to write down all that they could recollect of the social events of
the birthday; and to test the result, thus obtained, by the light of what
had happened afterwards, when the company had left the house.

This last and newest of my many contemplated experiments in the art
of inquiry--which Betteredge would probably have attributed to the
clear-headed, or French, side of me being uppermost for the moment--
may fairly claim record here, on its own merits. Unlikely as it may seem,
I had now actually groped my way to the root of the matter at last.
All I wanted was a hint to guide me in the right direction at starting.
Before another day had passed over my head, that hint was given me by one of
the company who had been present at the birthday feast!

With the plan of proceeding which I now had in view, it was
first necessary to possess the complete list of the guests.
This I could easily obtain from Gabriel Betteredge.
I determined to go back to Yorkshire on that day, and to begin my
contemplated investigation the next morning.

It was just too late to start by the train which left London before noon.
There was no alternative but to wait, nearly three hours, for the departure of
the next train. Was there anything I could do in London, which might usefully
occupy this interval of time?

My thoughts went back again obstinately to the birthday dinner.

Though I had forgotten the numbers, and, in many cases,
the names of the guests, I remembered readily enough that by far
the larger proportion of them came from Frizinghall, or from
its neighbourhood. But the larger proportion was not all.
Some few of us were not regular residents in the country.
I myself was one of the few. Mr. Murthwaite was another.
Godfrey Ablewhite was a third. Mr. Bruff--no: I called to mind
that business had prevented Mr. Bruff from making one of the party.
Had any ladies been present, whose usual residence was in London?
I could only remember Miss Clack as coming within this
latter category. However, here were three of the guests,
at any rate, whom it was clearly advisable for me to see
before I left town. I drove off at once to Mr. Bruff's office;
not knowing the addresses of the persons of whom I was in search,
and thinking it probable that he might put me in the way of
finding them.

Mr. Bruff proved to be too busy to give me more than a minute of his
valuable time. In that minute, however, he contrived to dispose--
in the most discouraging manner--of all the questions I had to put
to him.

In the first place, he considered my newly-discovered method of finding a clue
to the mystery as something too purely fanciful to be seriously discussed.
In the second, third, and fourth places, Mr. Murthwaite was now on his way
back to the scene of his past adventures; Miss Clack had suffered losses,
and had settled, from motives of economy, in France; Mr. Godfrey
Ablewhite might, or might not, be discoverable somewhere in London.
Suppose I inquired at his club? And suppose I excused Mr. Bruff, if he went
back to his business and wished me good morning?

The field of inquiry in London, being now so narrowed as only to include
the one necessity of discovering Godfrey's address, I took the lawyer's hint,
and drove to his club.

In the hall, I met with one of the members, who was an old friend
of my cousin's, and who was also an acquaintance of my own.
This gentleman, after enlightening me on the subject of
Godfrey's address, told me of two recent events in his life,
which were of some importance in themselves, and which had not
previously reached my ears.

It appeared that Godfrey, far from being discouraged by Rachel's
withdrawal from her engagement to him had made matrimonial advances
soon afterwards to another young lady, reputed to be a great heiress.
His suit had prospered, and his marriage had been considered
as a settled and certain thing. But, here again, the engagement
had been suddenly and unexpectedly broken off--owing, it was said,
on this occasion, to a serious difference of opinion between the
bridegroom and the lady's father, on the question of settlements.

As some compensation for this second matrimonial disaster,
Godfrey had soon afterwards found himself the object of fond
pecuniary remembrance, on the part of one of his many admirers.
A rich old lady--highly respected at the Mothers'
Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society, and a great friend of
Miss Clack's (to whom she left nothing but a mourning ring)--
had bequeathed to the admirable and meritorious Godfrey
a legacy of five thousand pounds. After receiving this
handsome addition to his own modest pecuniary resources,
he had been heard to say that he felt the necessity
of getting a little respite from his charitable labours,
and that his doctor prescribed "a run on the Continent,
as likely to be productive of much future benefit to his health."
If I wanted to see him, it would be advisable to lose no time in
paying my contemplated visit.

I went, then and there, to pay my visit.

The same fatality which had made me just one day too late in calling
on Sergeant Cuff, made me again one day too late in calling on Godfrey.
He had left London, on the previous morning, by the tidal train,
for Dover. He was to cross to Ostend; and his servant believed he was
going on to Brussels. The time of his return was rather uncertain;
but I might be sure he would be away at least three months.

I went back to my lodgings a little depressed in spirits.
Three of the guests at the birthday dinner--and those three
all exceptionally intelligent people--were out of my reach,
at the very time when it was most important to be able to
communicate with them. My last hopes now rested on Betteredge,
and on the friends of the late Lady Verinder whom I might still
find living in the neighbourhood of Rachel's country house.

On this occasion, I travelled straight to Frizinghall--
the town being now the central point in my field of inquiry.
I arrived too late in the evening to be able to communicate
with Betteredge. The next morning, I sent a messenger
with a letter, requesting him to join me at the hotel, at his
earliest convenience.

Having taken the precaution--partly to save time, partly to
accommodate Betteredge--of sending my messenger in a fly,
I had a reasonable prospect, if no delays occurred,
of seeing the old man within less than two hours from
the time when I had sent for him. During this interval,
I arranged to employ myself in opening my contemplated inquiry,
among the guests present at the birthday dinner who were
personally known to me, and who were easily within my reach.
These were my relatives, the Ablewhites, and Mr. Candy.
The doctor had expressed a special wish to see me,
and the doctor lived in the next street. So to Mr. Candy I
went first.

After what Betteredge had told me, I naturally anticipated finding traces
in the doctor's face of the severe illness from which he had suffered.
But I was utterly unprepared for such a change as I saw in him when
he entered the room and shook hands with me. His eyes were dim; his hair
had turned completely grey; his face was wizen; his figure had shrunk.
I looked at the once lively, rattlepated, humorous little doctor--
associated in my remembrance with the perpetration of incorrigible
social indiscretions and innumerable boyish jokes--and I saw nothing
left of his former self, but the old tendency to vulgar smartness
in his dress. The man was a wreck; but his clothes and his jewellery--
in cruel mockery of the change in him--were as gay and as gaudy
as ever.

"I have often thought of you, Mr. Blake," he said; "and I am heartily
glad to see you again at last. If there is anything I can do for you,
pray command my services, sir--pray command my services!"

He said those few commonplace words with needless hurry and eagerness,
and with a curiosity to know what had brought me to Yorkshire,
which he was perfectly--I might say childishly--incapable of concealing
from notice.

With the object that I had in view, I had of course foreseen
the necessity of entering into some sort of personal explanation,
before I could hope to interest people, mostly strangers to me,
in doing their best to assist my inquiry. On the journey
to Frizinghall I had arranged what my explanation was to be--
and I seized the opportunity now offered to me of trying the effect
of it on Mr. Candy.

"I was in Yorkshire, the other day, and I am in Yorkshire again now,
on rather a romantic errand," I said. "It is a matter, Mr. Candy,
in which the late Lady Verinder's friends all took some interest.
You remember the mysterious loss of the Indian Diamond, now nearly
a year since? Circumstances have lately happened which lead
to the hope that it may yet be found--and I am interesting myself,
as one of the family, in recovering it. Among the obstacles
in my way, there is the necessity of collecting again all the
evidence which was discovered at the time, and more if possible.
There are peculiarities in this case which make it desirable
to revive my recollection of everything that happened in the house,
on the evening of Miss Verinder's birthday. And I venture to appeal
to her late mother's friends who were present on that occasion, to lend
me the assistance of their memories----"

I had got as far as that in rehearsing my explanatory phrases,
when I was suddenly checked by seeing plainly in Mr. Candy's
face that my experiment on him was a total failure.

The little doctor sat restlessly picking at the points of his fingers
all the time I was speaking. His dim watery eyes were fixed on my face
with an expression of vacant and wistful inquiry very painful to see.
What he was thinking of, it was impossible to divine. The one thing
clearly visible was that I had failed, after the first two or three words,
in fixing his attention. The only chance of recalling him to himself appeared
to lie in changing the subject. I tried a new topic immediately.

"So much," I said, gaily, "for what brings me to Frizinghall! Now, Mr. Candy,
it's your turn. You sent me a message by Gabriel Betteredge----"

He left off picking at his fingers, and suddenly brightened up.

"Yes! yes! yes!" he exclaimed eagerly. "That's it! I sent you a message!"

"And Betteredge duly communicated it by letter," I went on.
You had something to say to me, the next time I was in
your neighbourhood. Well, Mr. Candy, here I am!"

"Here you are!" echoed the doctor. "And Betteredge was quite right.
I had something to say to you. That was my message. Betteredge is a
wonderful man. What a memory! At his age, what a memory!"

He dropped back into silence, and began picking at his fingers again.
Recollecting what I had heard from Betteredge about the effect of the fever
on his memory, I went on with the conversation, in the hope that I
might help him at starting.

"It's a long time since we met, I said. "We last saw each other
at the last birthday dinner my poor aunt was ever to give."

"That's it!" cried Mr. Candy. "The birthday dinner!"
He started impulsively to his feet, and looked at me.
A deep flush suddenly overspread his faded face, and he
abruptly sat down again, as if conscious of having betrayed
a weakness which he would fain have concealed. It was plain,
pitiably plain, that he was aware of his own defect of memory,
and that he was bent on hiding it from the observation of
his friends.

Thus far he had appealed to my compassion only. But the words
he had just said--few as they were--roused my curiosity
instantly to the highest pitch. The birthday dinner had
already become the one event in the past, at which I looked
back with strangely-mixed feelings of hope and distrust.
And here was the birthday dinner unmistakably proclaiming itself
as the subject on which Mr. Candy had something important
to say to me!

I attempted to help him out once more. But, this time,
my own interests were at the bottom of my compassionate motive,
and they hurried me on a little too abruptly, to the end I had
in view.

"It's nearly a year now," I said, "since we sat at that pleasant table.
Have you made any memorandum--in your diary, or otherwise--of what you wanted
to say to me?"

Mr. Candy understood the suggestion, and showed me that he understood it,
as an insult.

"I require no memorandum, Mr. Blake," he said, stiffly enough.
"I am not such a very old man, yet--and my memory (thank God)
is to be thoroughly depended on!"

It is needless to say that I declined to understand that he was offended
with me.

"I wish I could say the same of my memory," I answered.
"When I try to think of matters that are a year old, I seldom
find my remembrance as vivid as I could wish it to be.
Take the dinner at Lady Verinder's, for instance----"

Mr. Candy brightened up again, the moment the allusion passed my lips.

"Ah! the dinner, the dinner at Lady Verinder's!" he exclaimed,
more eagerly than ever. "I have got something to say to you
about that."

His eyes looked at me again with the painful expression of inquiry,
so wistful, so vacant, so miserably helpless to see. He was evidently
trying hard, and trying in vain, to recover the lost recollection.
"It was a very pleasant dinner," he burst out suddenly, with an air
of saying exactly what he wanted to say. "A very pleasant dinner,
Mr. Blake, wasn't it?" He nodded and smiled, and appeared to think,
poor fellow, that he had succeeded in concealing the total failure
of his memory, by a well-timed exertion of his own presence
of mind.

It was so distressing that I at once shifted the talk--
deeply as I was interested in his recovering the lost remembrance--
to topics of local interest.

Here, he got on glibly enough. Trumpery little scandals
and quarrels in the town, some of them as much as a month old,
appeared to recur to his memory readily. He chattered on,
with something of the smooth gossiping fluency of former times.
But there were moments, even in the full flow of his talkativeness,
when he suddenly hesitated--looked at me for a moment with the vacant
inquiry once more in his eyes--controlled himself--and went on again.
I submitted patiently to my martyrdom (it is surely nothing
less than martyrdom to a man of cosmopolitan sympathies,
to absorb in silent resignation the news of a country town?)
until the clock on the chimney-piece told me that my visit
had been prolonged beyond half an hour. Having now some right
to consider the sacrifice as complete, I rose to take leave.
As we shook hands, Mr. Candy reverted to the birthday festival of his
own accord.

"I am so glad we have met again," he said. "I had it on my mind--
I really had it on my mind, Mr. Blake, to speak to you.
About the dinner at Lady Verinder's, you know? A pleasant dinner--
really a pleasant dinner now, wasn't it?"

On repeating the phrase, he seemed to feel hardly as certain
of having prevented me from suspecting his lapse of memory,
as he had felt on the first occasion. The wistful look clouded
his face again: and, after apparently designing to accompany me
to the street door, he suddenly changed his mind, rang the bell
for the servant, and remained in the drawing-room.

I went slowly down the doctor's stairs, feeling the disheartening
conviction that he really had something to say which it was vitally
important to me to hear, and that he was morally incapable of saying it.
The effort of remembering that he wanted to speak to me was,
but too evidently, the only effort that his enfeebled memory was now
able to achieve.

Just as I reached the bottom of the stairs, and had turned a corner on
my way to the outer hall, a door opened softly somewhere on the ground
floor of the house, and a gentle voice said behind me:--

"I am afraid, sir, you find Mr. Candy sadly changed?"

I turned round, and found myself face to face with Ezra Jennings.


The doctor's pretty housemaid stood waiting for me, with the street
door open in her hand. Pouring brightly into the hall, the morning
light fell full on the face of Mr. Candy's assistant when I turned,
and looked at him.

It was impossible to dispute Betteredge's assertion that the appearance
of Ezra Jennings, speaking from a popular point of view, was against him.
His gipsy-complexion, his fleshless cheeks, his gaunt facial bones,
his dreamy eyes, his extraordinary parti-coloured hair, the puzzling
contradiction between his face and figure which made him look old
and young both together--were all more or less calculated to produce
an unfavourable impression of him on a stranger's mind. And yet--
feeling this as I certainly did--it is not to be denied that Ezra
Jennings made some inscrutable appeal to my sympathies, which I found it
impossible to resist. While my knowledge of the world warned me to answer
the question which he had put, acknowledging that I did indeed find
Mr. Candy sadly changed, and then to proceed on my way out of the house--
my interest in Ezra Jennings held me rooted to the place, and gave
him the opportunity of speaking to me in private about his employer,
for which he had been evidently on the watch.

"Are you walking my way, Mr. Jennings?" I said, observing that he held
his hat in his hand. "I am going to call on my aunt, Mrs. Ablewhite."

Ezra Jennings replied that he had a patient to see, and that he was walking
my way.

We left the house together. I observed that the pretty servant girl--
who was all smiles and amiability, when I wished her good morning
on my way out--received a modest little message from Ezra Jennings,
relating to the time at which he might be expected to return,
with pursed-up lips, and with eyes which ostentatiously looked
anywhere rather than look in his face. The poor wretch was evidently
no favourite in the house. Out of the house, I had Betteredge's
word for it that he was unpopular everywhere. "What a life!"
I thought to myself, as we descended the doctor's doorsteps.

Having already referred to Mr. Candy's illness on his side, Ezra Jennings
now appeared determined to leave it to me to resume the subject.
His silence said significantly, "It's your turn now." I, too, had my
reasons for referring to the doctor's illness: and I readily accepted
the responsibility of speaking first.

"Judging by the change I see in him," I began, "Mr. Candy's
illness must have been far more serious that I had supposed?"

"It is almost a miracle," said Ezra Jennings, "that he lived through it."

"Is his memory never any better than I have found it to-day?
He has been trying to speak to me----"

"Of something which happened before he was taken ill?" asked the assistant,
observing that I hesitated.


"His memory of events, at that past time, is hopelessly enfeebled,"
said Ezra Jennings. "It is almost to be deplored, poor fellow,
that even the wreck of it remains. While he remembers dimly
plans that he formed--things, here and there, that he had to say
or do before his illness--he is perfectly incapable of recalling
what the plans were, or what the thing was that he had to say or do.
He is painfully conscious of his own deficiency, and painfully anxious,
as you must have seen, to hide it from observation. If he could
only have recovered in a complete state of oblivion as to the past,
he would have been a happier man. Perhaps we should all be happier,"
he added, with a sad smile, "if we could but completely forget!"

"There are some events surely in all men's lives," I replied,
"the memory of which they would be unwilling entirely to lose?"

"That is, I hope, to be said of most men, Mr. Blake. I am afraid
it cannot truly be said of ALL. Have you any reason to suppose
that the lost remembrance which Mr. Candy tried to recover--
while you were speaking to him just now--was a remembrance which it
was important to YOU that he should recall?"

In saying those words, he had touched, of his own accord,
on the very point upon which I was anxious to consult him.
The interest I felt in this strange man had impelled me,
in the first instance, to give him the opportunity of speaking
to me; reserving what I might have to say, on my side,
in relation to his employer, until I was first satisfied that
he was a person in whose delicacy and discretion I could trust.
The little that he had said, thus far, had been sufficient
to convince me that I was speaking to a gentleman.
He had what I may venture to describe as the UNSOUGHT
SELF-POSSESSION, which is a sure sign of good breeding,
not in England only, but everywhere else in the civilised world.
Whatever the object which he had in view, in putting
the question that he had just addressed to me, I felt
no doubt that I was justified--so far--in answering him
without reserve.

"I believe I have a strong interest," I said, "in tracing
the lost remembrance which Mr. Candy was unable to recall.
May I ask whether you can suggest to me any method by which I
might assist his memory?"

Ezra Jennings looked at me, with a sudden flash of interest
in his dreamy brown eyes.

"Mr. Candy's memory is beyond the reach of assistance," he said.
"I have tried to help it often enough since his recovery, to be able
to speak positively on that point."

This disappointed me; and I owned it.

"I confess you led me to hope for a less discouraging answer than that,"
I said.

Ezra Jennings smiled. "It may not, perhaps, be a final answer, Mr. Blake.
It may be possible to trace Mr. Candy's lost recollection, without the
necessity of appealing to Mr. Candy himself."

"Indeed? Is it an indiscretion, on my part, to ask how?"

"By no means. My only difficulty in answering your question,
is the difficulty of explaining myself. May I trust to
your patience, if I refer once more to Mr. Candy's illness:
and if I speak of it this time without sparing you certain
professional details?"

"Pray go on! You have interested me already in hearing the details."

My eagerness seemed to amuse--perhaps, I might rather say, to please him.
He smiled again. We had by this time left the last houses in the town
behind us. Ezra Jennings stopped for a moment, and picked some wild
flowers from the hedge by the roadside. "How beautiful they are!"
he said, simply, showing his little nosegay to me. "And how few people in
England seem to admire them as they deserve!"

"You have not always been in England?" I said.

"No. I was born, and partly brought up, in one of our colonies.
My father was an Englishman; but my mother----
We are straying away from our subject, Mr. Blake; and
it is my fault. The truth is, I have associations with these modest little
hedgeside flowers----" It doesn't matter; we were speaking of Mr. Candy.
To Mr. Candy let us return."

Connecting the few words about himself which thus reluctantly
escaped him, with the melancholy view of life which led him to place
the conditions of human happiness in complete oblivion of the past,
I felt satisfied that the story which I had read in his face was,
in two particulars at least, the story that it really told.
He had suffered as few men suffer; and there was the mixture of some
foreign race in his English blood.

"You have heard, I dare say, of the original cause of Mr. Candy's illness?"
he resumed. "The night of Lady Verinder's dinner-party was a night
of heavy rain. My employer drove home through it in his gig,
and reached the house wetted to the skin. He found an urgent message
from a patient, waiting for him; and he most unfortunately went at once
to visit the sick person, without stopping to change his clothes.
I was myself professionally detained, that night, by a case at some
distance from Frizinghall. When I got back the next morning, I found
Mr. Candy's groom waiting in great alarm to take me to his master's room.
By that time the mischief was done; the illness had set in."

"The illness has only been described to me, in general terms, as a fever,"
I said.

"I can add nothing which will make the description more accurate,"
answered Ezra Jennings. "From first to last the fever assumed
no specific form. I sent at once to two of Mr. Candy's medical
friends in the town, both physicians, to come and give me their
opinion of the case. They agreed with me that it looked serious;
but they both strongly dissented from the view I took of the treatment.
We differed entirely in the conclusions which we drew from
the patient's pulse. The two doctors, arguing from the rapidity
of the beat, declared that a lowering treatment was the only treatment
to be adopted. On my side, I admitted the rapidity of the pulse,
but I also pointed to its alarming feebleness as indicating
an exhausted condition of the system, and as showing a plain
necessity for the administration of stimulants. The two doctors
were for keeping him on gruel, lemonade, barley-water, and so on.
I was for giving him champagne, or brandy, ammonia, and quinine.
A serious difference of opinion, as you see! a difference between
two physicians of established local repute, and a stranger
who was only an assistant in the house. For the first few days,
I had no choice but to give way to my elders and betters;
the patient steadily sinking all the time. I made a second attempt
to appeal to the plain, undeniably plain, evidence of the pulse.
Its rapidity was unchecked, and its feebleness had increased.
The two doctors took offence at my obstinacy. They said,
"Mr. Jennings, either we manage this case, or you manage it.
Which is it to be?" I said, "Gentlemen, give me five minutes
to consider, and that plain question shall have a plain reply."
When the time expired, I was ready with my answer. I said,
"You positively refuse to try the stimulant treatment?"
They refused in so many words. "I mean to try it at once,
gentlemen."--"Try it, Mr. Jennings, and we withdraw from the case."
I sent down to the cellar for a bottle of champagne; and I administered
half a tumbler-full of it to the patient with my own hand.
The two physicians took up their hats in silence, and left the

"You had assumed a serious responsibility," I said. In your place,
I am afraid I should have shrunk from it."

"In my place, Mr. Blake, you would have remembered that Mr. Candy
had taken you into his employment, under circumstances which made you
his debtor for life. In my place, you would have seen him sinking,
hour by hour; and you would have risked anything, rather than let
the one man on earth who had befriended you, die before your eyes.
Don't suppose that I had no sense of the terrible position in which I
had placed myself! There were moments when I felt all the misery
of my friendlessness, all the peril of my dreadful responsibility.
If I had been a happy man, if I had led a prosperous life,
I believe I should have sunk under the task I had imposed on myself.
But I had no happy time to look back at, no past peace of mind
to force itself into contrast with my present anxiety and suspense--
and I held firm to my resolution through it all. I took an interval
in the middle of the day, when my patient's condition was at its best,
for the repose I needed. For the rest of the four-and-twenty hours,
as long as his life was in danger, I never left his bedside.
Towards sunset, as usual in such cases, the delirium incidental
to the fever came on. It lasted more or less through the night;
and then intermitted, at that terrible time in the early morning--
from two o'clock to five--when the vital energies even of the healthiest
of us are at their lowest. It is then that Death gathers in his
human harvest most abundantly. It was then that Death and I fought
our fight over the bed, which should have the man who lay on it.
I never hesitated in pursuing the treatment on which I
had staked everything. When wine failed, I tried brandy.
When the other stimulants lost their influence, I doubled the dose.
After an interval of suspense--the like of which I hope to God
I shall never feel again--there came a day when the rapidity of
the pulse slightly, but appreciably, diminished; and, better still,
there came also a change in the beat--an unmistakable change
to steadiness and strength. THEN, I knew that I had saved him;
and then I own I broke down. I laid the poor fellow's wasted hand
back on the bed, and burst out crying. An hysterical relief,
Mr. Blake--nothing more! Physiology says, and says truly,
that some men are born with female constitutions--and I am one of

He made that bitterly professional apology for his tears,
speaking quietly and unaffectedly, as he had spoken throughout.
His tone and manner, from beginning to end, showed him to
be especially, almost morbidly, anxious not to set himself up
as an object of interest to me.

"You may well ask, why I have wearied you with all these details?"
he went on. "It is the only way I can see, Mr. Blake,
of properly introducing to you what I have to say next.
Now you know exactly what my position was, at the time
of Mr. Candy's illness, you will the more readily understand
the sore need I had of lightening the burden on my mind
by giving it, at intervals, some sort of relief. I have had
the presumption to occupy my leisure, for some years past,
in writing a book, addressed to the members of my profession--
a book on the intricate and delicate subject of the brain and
the nervous system. My work will probably never be finished;
and it will certainly never be published. It has none the less
been the friend of many lonely hours; and it helped me to while
away the anxious time--the time of waiting, and nothing else--
at Mr. Candy's bedside. I told you he was delirious,
I think? And I mentioned the time at which his delirium
came on?"


"Well, I had reached a section of my book, at that time,
which touched on this same question of delirium. I won't trouble
you at any length with my theory on the subject--I will confine
myself to telling you only what it is your present interest to know.
It has often occurred to me in the course of my medical practice,
to doubt whether we can justifiably infer--in cases of delirium--
that the loss of the faculty of speaking connectedly, implies of
necessity the loss of the faculty of thinking connectedly as well.
Poor Mr. Candy's illness gave me an opportunity of putting this
doubt to the test. I understand the art of writing in shorthand;
and I was able to take down the patient's "wanderings", exactly as they
fell from his lips.--Do you see, Mr. Blake, what I am coming to
at last?"

I saw it clearly, and waited with breathless interest to hear more.

"At odds and ends of time," Ezra Jennings went on, "I reproduced
my shorthand notes, in the ordinary form of writing--leaving large
spaces between the broken phrases, and even the single words,
as they had fallen disconnectedly from Mr. Candy's lips.
I then treated the result thus obtained, on something like the
principle which one adopts in putting together a child's 'puzzle.'
It is all confusion to begin with; but it may be all brought
into order and shape, if you can only find the right way.
Acting on this plan, I filled in each blank space on the paper,
with what the words or phrases on either side of it suggested
to me as the speaker's meaning; altering over and over again,
until my additions followed naturally on the spoken words
which came before them, and fitted naturally into the spoken
words which came after them. The result was, that I not
only occupied in this way many vacant and anxious hours,
but that I arrived at something which was (as it seemed to me)
a confirmation of the theory that I held. In plainer words,
after putting the broken sentences together I found the superior
faculty of thinking going on, more or less connectedly,
in my patient's mind, while the inferior faculty of
expression was in a state of almost complete incapacity
and confusion."

"One word!" I interposed eagerly. "Did my name occur in any
of his wanderings?"

"You shall hear, Mr. Blake. Among my written proofs of
the assertion which I have just advanced--or, I ought to say,
among the written experiments, tending to put my assertion
to the proof--there IS one, in which your name occurs.
For nearly the whole of one night, Mr. Candy's mind
was occupied with SOMETHING between himself and you.
I have got the broken words, as they dropped from his lips,
on one sheet of paper. And I have got the links of my own
discovering which connect those words together, on another
sheet of paper. The product (as the arithmeticians would say)
is an intelligible statement--first, of something actually done
in the past; secondly, of something which Mr. Candy contemplated
doing in the future, if his illness had not got in the way,
and stopped him. The question is whether this does, or does not,
represent the lost recollection which he vainly attempted to find
when you called on him this morning?"

"Not a doubt of it!" I answered. "Let us go back directly,
and look at the papers!"

"Quite impossible, Mr. Blake."


"Put yourself in my position for a moment," said Ezra Jennings.
"Would you disclose to another person what had dropped unconsciously
from the lips of your suffering patient and your helpless friend,
without first knowing that there was a necessity to justify you
in opening your lips?"

I felt that he was unanswerable, here; but I tried to argue
the question, nevertheless.

"My conduct in such a delicate matter as you describe," I replied,
"would depend greatly on whether the disclosure was of a nature
to compromise my friend or not."

"I have disposed of all necessity for considering that side of the question,
long since," said Ezra Jennings. "Wherever my notes included anything which
Mr. Candy might have wished to keep secret, those notes have been destroyed.
My manuscript experiments at my friend's bedside, include nothing, now,
which he would have hesitated to communicate to others, if he had recovered
the use of his memory. In your case, I have every reason to suppose that my
notes contain something which he actually wished to say to you

"And yet, you hesitate?"

"And yet, I hesitate. Remember the circumstances under which I
obtained the information which I possess! Harmless as it is,
I cannot prevail upon myself to give it up to you, unless you
first satisfy me that there is a reason for doing so.
He was so miserably ill, Mr. Blake! and he was so helplessly
dependent upon Me! Is it too much to ask, if I request you only
to hint to me what your interest is in the lost recollection--
or what you believe that lost recollection to be?"

To have answered him with the frankness which his language and his
manner both claimed from me, would have been to commit myself to openly
acknowledging that I was suspected of the theft of the Diamond.
Strongly as Ezra Jennings had intensified the first impulsive interest
which I had felt in him, he had not overcome my unconquerable
reluctance to disclose the degrading position in which I stood.
I took refuge once more in the explanatory phrases with which I had
prepared myself to meet the curiosity of strangers

This time I had no reason to complain of a want of attention
on the part of the person to whom I addressed myself.
Ezra Jennings listened patiently, even anxiously, until I
had done.

"I am sorry to have raised your expectations, Mr. Blake,
only to disappoint them," he said. "Throughout the whole
period of Mr. Candy's illness, from first to last, not one
word about the Diamond escaped his lips. The matter with
which I heard him connect your name has, I can assure you,
no discoverable relation whatever with the loss or the recovery
of Miss Verinder's jewel."

We arrived, as he said those words, at a place where the highway
along which we had been walking branched off into two roads.
One led to Mr. Ablewhite's house, and the other to a moorland
village some two or three miles off. Ezra Jennings stopped at
the road which led to the village.

"My way lies in this direction," he said. "I am really and truly sorry,
Mr. Blake, that I can be of no use to you."

His voice told me that he spoke sincerely. His soft brown eyes
rested on me for a moment with a look of melancholy interest.
He bowed, and went, without another word, on his way to
the village.

For a minute or more I stood and watched him, walking farther
and farther away from me; carrying farther and farther away with him
what I now firmly believed to be the clue of which I was in search.
He turned, after walking on a little way, and looked back.
Seeing me still standing at the place where we had parted, he stopped,
as if doubting whether I might not wish to speak to him again.
There was no time for me to reason out my own situation--
to remind myself that I was losing my opportunity, at what might
be the turning point of my life, and all to flatter nothing
more important than my own self-esteem! There was only time
to call him back first, and to think afterwards. I suspect I am
one of the rashest of existing men. I called him back--and then
I said to myself, "Now there is no help for it. I must tell him
the truth!"

He retraced his steps directly. I advanced along the road to meet him.

"Mr. Jennings," I said. "I have not treated you quite fairly.
My interest in tracing Mr. Candy's lost recollection is not
the interest of recovering the Moonstone. A serious personal
matter is at the bottom of my visit to Yorkshire. I have but one
excuse for not having dealt frankly with you in this matter.
It is more painful to me than I can say, to mention to anybody
what my position really is."

Ezra Jennings looked at me with the first appearance of embarrassment
which I had seen in him yet.

"I have no right, Mr. Blake, and no wish," he said, "to intrude myself into
your private affairs. Allow me to ask your pardon, on my side, for having
(most innocently) put you to a painful test."

"You have a perfect right," I rejoined, "to fix the terms on which you
feel justified in revealing what you heard at Mr. Candy's bedside.
I understand and respect the delicacy which influences you in this matter.
How can I expect to be taken into your confidence if I decline
to admit you into mine? You ought to know, and you shall know,
why I am interested in discovering what Mr. Candy wanted to say to me.
If I turn out to be mistaken in my anticipations, and if you prove unable
to help me when you are really aware of what I want, I shall trust to your
honour to keep my secret--and something tells me that I shall not trust
in vain."

"Stop, Mr. Blake. I have a word to say, which must be said
before you go any farther." I looked at him in astonishment.
The grip of some terrible emotion seemed to have seized him,
and shaken him to the soul. His gipsy complexion had altered
to a livid greyish paleness; his eyes had suddenly become
wild and glittering; his voice had dropped to a tone--
low, stern, and resolute--which I now heard for the first time.
The latent resources in the man, for good or for evil--
it was hard, at that moment, to say which--leapt up in him
and showed themselves to me, with the suddenness of a flash
of light.

"Before you place any confidence in me," he went on, "you ought to know,
and you MUST know, under what circumstances I have been received into
Mr. Candy's house. It won't take long. I don't profess, sir, to tell
my story (as the phrase is) to any man. My story will die with me.
All I ask, is to be permitted to tell you, what I have told Mr. Candy.
If you are still in the mind, when you have heard that, to say what you
have proposed to say, you will command my attention and command my services.
Shall we walk on?"

The suppressed misery in his face silenced me. I answered his question
by a sign. We walked on.

After advancing a few hundred yards, Ezra Jennings stopped at a gap
in the rough stone wall which shut off the moor from the road,
at this part of it.

"Do you mind resting a little, Mr. Blake?" he asked. "I am not what I was--
and some things shake me."

I agreed of course. He led the way through the gap to a patch of turf on
the heathy ground, screened by bushes and dwarf trees on the side nearest
to the road, and commanding in the opposite direction a grandly desolate
view over the broad brown wilderness of the moor. The clouds had gathered,
within the last half hour. The light was dull; the distance was dim.
The lovely face of Nature met us, soft and still colourless--met us without
a smile.

We sat down in silence. Ezra Jennings laid aside his hat,
and passed his hand wearily over his forehead, wearily through
his startling white and black hair. He tossed his little
nosegay of wild flowers away from him, as if the remembrances
which it recalled were remembrances which hurt him now.

"Mr. Blake!" he said, suddenly. "You are in bad company.
The cloud of a horrible accusation has rested on me for years.
I tell you the worst at once. I am a man whose life is a wreck,
and whose character is gone."

I attempted to speak. He stopped me.

"No," he said. "Pardon me; not yet. Don't commit yourself to
expressions of sympathy which you may afterwards wish to recall.
I have mentioned an accusation which has rested on me for years.
There are circumstances in connexion with it that tell against me.
I cannot bring myself to acknowledge what the accusation is.
And I am incapable, perfectly incapable, of proving my innocence.
I can only assert my innocence. I assert it, sir, on my oath,
as a Christian. It is useless to appeal to my honour as a man."

He paused again. I looked round at him. He never looked at me in return.
His whole being seemed to be absorbed in the agony of recollecting, and in
the effort to speak.

"There is much that I might say," he went on,
"about the merciless treatment of me by my own family,
and the merciless enmity to which I have fallen a victim.
But the harm is done; the wrong is beyond all remedy.
I decline to weary or distress you, sir, if I can help it.
At the outset of my career in this country, the vile slander
to which I have referred struck me down at once and for ever.
I resigned my aspirations in my profession--obscurity was
the only hope left for me. I parted with the woman I loved--
how could I condemn her to share my disgrace? A medical
assistant's place offered itself, in a remote corner of England.
I got the place. It promised me peace; it promised me obscurity,
as I thought. I was wrong. Evil report, with time and
chance to help it, travels patiently, and travels far.
The accusation from which I had fled followed me.
I got warning of its approach. I was able to leave my
situation voluntarily, with the testimonials that I had earned.
They got me another situation in another remote district.
Time passed again; and again the slander that was death to my
character found me out. On this occasion I had no warning.
My employer said, "Mr. Jennings, I have no complaint to make
against you; but you must set yourself right, or leave me."
I had but one choice--I left him. It's useless to dwell on
what I suffered after that. I am only forty years old now.
Look at my face, and let it tell for me the story of some
miserable years. It ended in my drifting to this place,
and meeting with Mr. Candy. He wanted an assistant.
I referred him, on the question of capacity, to my last employer.
The question of character remained. I told him what I have told you--
and more. I warned him that there were difficulties in the way,
even if he believed me. "Here, as elsewhere," I said "I
scorn the guilty evasion of living under an assumed name:
I am no safer at Frizinghall than at other places from
the cloud that follows me, go where I may." He answered,
"I don't do things by halves--I believe you, and I pity you.
If you will risk what may happen, I will risk it too."
God Almighty bless him! He has given me shelter,
he has given me employment, he has given me rest of mind--
and I have the certain conviction (I have had it for some
months past) that nothing will happen now to make him regret

"The slander has died out?" I said.

"The slander is as active as ever. But when it follows me here,
it will come too late."

"You will have left the place?"

"No, Mr. Blake--I shall be dead. For ten years past I
have suffered from an incurable internal complaint. I don't
disguise from you that I should have let the agony of it kill
me long since, but for one last interest in life, which makes
my existence of some importance to me still. I want to provide
for a person--very dear to me--whom I shall never see again.
My own little patrimony is hardly sufficient to make her independent
of the world. The hope, if I could only live long enough,
of increasing it to a certain sum, has impelled me to resist
the disease by such palliative means as I could devise.
The one effectual palliative in my case, is--opium. To that
all-potent and all-merciful drug I am indebted for a respite
of many years from my sentence of death. But even the virtues
of opium have their limit. The progress of the disease has
gradually forced me from the use of opium to the abuse of it.
I am feeling the penalty at last. My nervous system is shattered;
my nights are nights of horror. The end is not far off now.
Let it come--I have not lived and worked in vain. The little
sum is nearly made up; and I have the means of completing it,
if my last reserves of life fail me sooner than I expect.
I hardly know how I have wandered into telling you this.
I don't think I am mean enough to appeal to your pity.
Perhaps, I fancy you may be all the readier to believe me,
if you know that what I have said to you, I have said
with the certain knowledge in me that I am a dying man.
There is no disguising, Mr. Blake, that you interest me.
I have attempted to make my poor friend's loss of memory
the means of bettering my acquaintance with you. I have
speculated on the chance of your feeling a passing curiosity
about what he wanted to say, and of my being able to satisfy it.
Is there no excuse for my intruding myself on you?
Perhaps there is some excuse. A man who has lived as I have lived
has his bitter moments when he ponders over human destiny.
You have youth, health, riches, a place in the world, a prospect
before you. You, and such as you, show me the sunny side of
human life, and reconcile me with the world that I am leaving,
before I go. However this talk between us may end, I shall not
forget that you have done me a kindness in doing that. It rests
with you, sir, to say what you proposed saying, or to wish me good

I had but one answer to make to that appeal. Without a moment's hesitation
I told him the truth, as unreservedly as I have told it in these pages.

He started to his feet, and looked at me with breathless eagerness
as I approached the leading incident of my story.

"It is certain that I went into the room," I said; "it is certain that I
took the Diamond. I can only meet those two plain facts by declaring that,
do what I might, I did it without my own knowledge----"

Ezra Jennings caught me excitedly by the arm.

"Stop!" he said. "You have suggested more to me than you suppose.
Have you ever been accustomed to the use of opium?"

"I never tasted it in my life."

"Were your nerves out of order, at this time last year?
Were you unusually restless and irritable?"


"Did you sleep badly?"

"Wretchedly. Many nights I never slept at all."

"Was the birthday night an exception? Try, and remember.
Did you sleep well on that one occasion?"

"I do remember! I slept soundly."

He dropped my arm as suddenly as he had taken it--and looked at me
with the air of a man whose mind was relieved of the last doubt
that rested on it.

"This is a marked day in your life, and in mine," he said, gravely. "I am
absolutely certain, Mr. Blake, of one thing--I have got what Mr. Candy wanted
to say to you this morning, in the notes that I took at my patient's bedside.
Wait! that is not all. I am firmly persuaded that I can prove you to have
been unconscious of what you were about, when you entered the room and took
the Diamond. Give me time to think, and time to question you. I believe
the vindication of your innocence is in my hands!"

"Explain yourself, for God's sake! What do you mean?"

In the excitement of our colloquy, we had walked on a few steps,
beyond the clump of dwarf trees which had hitherto screened us from view.
Before Ezra Jennings could answer me, he was hailed from the high road
by a man, in great agitation, who had been evidently on the look-out
for him.

"I am coming," he called back; "I am coming as fast as I can!"
He turned to me. "There is an urgent case waiting for me at
the village yonder; I ought to have been there half an hour since--
I must attend to it at once. Give me two hours from this time,
and call at Mr. Candy's again--and I will engage to be ready
for you."

"How am I to wait!" I exclaimed, impatiently. "Can't you quiet
my mind by a word of explanation before we part?"

"This is far too serious a matter to be explained in a hurry, Mr. Blake.
I am not wilfully trying your patience--I should only be adding
to your suspense, if I attempted to relieve it as things are now.
At Frizinghall, sir, in two hours' time!"

The man on the high road hailed him again. He hurried away,
and left me.


How the interval of suspense in which I was now condemned might
have affected other men in my position, I cannot pretend to say.
The influence of the two hours' probation upon my temperament was
simply this. I felt physically incapable of remaining still in any
one place, and morally incapable of speaking to any one human being,
until I had first heard all that Ezra Jennings had to say to me.

In this frame of mind, I not only abandoned my contemplated
visit to Mrs. Ablewhite--I even shrank from encountering
Gabriel Betteredge himself.

Returning to Frizinghall, I left a note for Betteredge,
telling him that I had been unexpectedly called away for a
few hours, but that he might certainly expect me to return
towards three o'clock in the afternoon. I requested him,
in the interval, to order his dinner at the usual hour,
and to amuse himself as he pleased. He had, as I well knew,
hosts of friends in Frizinghall; and he would be at no loss
how to fill up his time until I returned to the hotel.

This done, I made the best of my way out of the town again,
and roamed the lonely moorland country which surrounds Frizinghall,
until my watch told me that it was time, at last, to return
to Mr. Candy's house.

I found Ezra Jennings ready and waiting for me.

He was sitting alone in a bare little room, which communicated by a
glazed door with a surgery. Hideous coloured diagrams of the ravages
of hideous diseases decorated the barren buff-coloured walls.
A book-case filled with dingy medical works, and ornamented at the top
with a skull, in place of the customary bust; a large deal table
copiously splashed with ink; wooden chairs of the sort that are seen
in kitchens and cottages; a threadbare drugget in the middle of the floor;


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