The Case Of The Childish Creed


Consulting the rough plan which he had constructed to take the place of the missing train card, he entered the compartment which the Countess had occupied, and which was actually next door.Still meeting with no response, he opened the door of the compartment and went in. No blind was down; indeed, the one narrow window was open, wide; and the whole of the interior of the compartment was plainly visible, all and everything in it. With a wild, affrighted, cry the porter rushed out of the compartment, and to the eager questioning of all who crowded round him, he could only mutter in confused and trembling accents: "There! The compartment was filled for some ten minutes or more by an excited, gesticulating, polyglot mob of half a dozen, all talking at once in French, English, and Italian. No one has any right to be in that compartment now. "Deuced awkward for us!" said the tall English general, Sir Charles Collingham by name, to his brother the parson, when he had reëntered their compartment and shut the door. Enough, gentlemen and madame"-- He bowed with the instinctive gallantry of his nation to the female figure which now appeared at the door of her compartment. There were two compartments of four berths each, and four of two berths each." "Stay, let us make a plan. Here, now, is that right?" and the Chief held up the rough diagram, here shown-- "Here we have the six compartments. This lady--she was alone?" "In the compartment, yes.

Well, 11 and 12?" "It was vacant all through the run." "And the last compartment, for four?" "There were two berths, occupied both by Frenchmen, at least so I judged them. 13 in compartment f.

15 in the same compartment, f. He called himself General Sir Charles Collingham, an officer of her Majesty's army; and the clergyman who shared the compartment was his brother, the Reverend Silas Collingham, rector of Theakstone-Lammas, in the county of Norfolk. And now, if you will permit me to proceed?" So the single occupant of the compartment b, that adjoining the Englishmen, was called in. But everything, of course, gave way before the detective, and, breaking through the seals, he walked in, making straight for the little room or compartment where the body of the victim still lay untended and absolutely untouched. Having settled the first preliminary but essential points, he next surveyed the whole compartment critically.

That some woman had entered the compartment. Consulting the rough plan which he had constructed to take the place of the missing train card, he entered the compartment which the Countess had occupied, and which was actually next door. Before leaving the car, and after walking through the other compartments, M.

She had not been in the sleeping-car at the time of the murder, while the Countess as certainly was; and, according to strong presumption, in the very compartment where the deed was done.

Floçon,--"I see that you occupied the compartment d, with berths Nos. Now next door to your compartment--do you know who was next door? He never spoke to you, nor you to him?" "I never saw him, the occupant of that compartment, except on that one occasion. I kept a good deal in my compartment during the journey." "Alone? Now, last night, did you hear anything strange in the car, more particularly in the adjoining compartment?" "Nothing." "No sound of voices raised high, no noise of a conflict, a struggle?" "No, monsieur." "That is odd. I looked into his compartment once and saw him in the act of counting them over, a great quantity, in fact--" Again the officials looked at each other significantly. What do you mean?" "Escaped through the open window of the compartment where you found the murdered man." "You noticed the open window, then?" quickly asked the detective. "When was that?" "Directly I entered the compartment at the first alarm. "Because," went on the Judge with decision--"because this was found in the compartment;" and he held out the piece of lace and the scrap of beading for the General's inspection, adding quickly, "You have seen these, or one of them, or something like them before. At last the net is drawing round this fine Countess." "Well, at any rate," said the detective aloud, returning to the General, "these beads were found in the compartment of the murdered man.

As to her entering this particular compartment,--at any previous time,--it is highly improbable.

By this time every one but myself had returned to his berth, and I was on the point of lying down again for half an hour, when I distinctly heard the handle turned of the compartment I knew to be vacant all through the run." "That was the one with berths 11 and 12?" "Probably. Not only was the handle turned, but the door partly opened--" "It was not the porter?" "Oh, no, he was in his seat,--you know it, at the end of the car,--sound asleep, snoring; I could hear him." "Did any one come out of the vacant compartment?" "No; but I was almost certain, I believe I could swear that I saw the same skirt, just the hem of it, a black skirt, sway forward beyond the door, just for a second. "I have looked out of the window of my compartment. In no other way can her presence in the sleeping-car between Laroche and Paris be accounted for-presence which she does not deny.) "Witness at last reluctantly confessed that she entered the compartment where the murder was committed, and at a critical moment. Apparently he had distrusted her, for he had contrived to lock her into her compartment.

It was after the murder, too, that he conceived the idea of personating Ripaldi, and, having disfigured him beyond recognition, as he hoped, he had changed clothes and compartments. /

"We will wait, if you please."We should never jump to conclusions," said the Chief snappishly. "Well, show me the train card--the list of the travellers in the sleeper." "It cannot be found, sir." "Impossible! But she came to her mistress sometimes, in the car." "For her service, I presume?" "Well, yes, monsieur, when I would permit it. "We will wait, if you please. "We must press the Countess on this point closely; I will put it plainly to M. "I agree with you, sir," said the instructing judge: "we must have in the Countess first, and pursue the line indicated as regards the missing maid." "I will fetch her, then. "Well, she has gone away somewhere. "Well, now, Madame la Comtesse, as to her description. I heard of her at an agency and registry office, when I was looking for a maid a month or two ago." "Then she has not been long in your service?" "No; as I tell you, she came to me in December last." "Well recommended?" "Strongly. She had lived with good families, French and English." "And with you, what was her character?" "Irreproachable." "Well, so much for Hortense Petitpré. "Well, among your acquaintances--he would probably have made himself known to you?" "I suppose so." "And he did not do so?

I think she ought to be arrested at once." "We might, indeed we ought to have more evidence, more definite evidence, perhaps?" The Judge was musing over the facts as he knew them. "We will go together," he said, adding, "Madame will remain here, please, until we return. "Her story may be true--that she missed it, that the maid took it." "We have nothing whatever against the maid. And here are my credentials, my official card, some official letters--" "And what, in a word, have you to tell us?" "I can tell you who the murdered man was." "We know that already." "Possibly; but only his name, I apprehend. "Well, at least she is not here with her mistress.

But I give it you for what it is worth." "Well, well, this maid--what was she like?" "Tall, dark, good-looking, not too reserved. That is, if you have no more questions to ask, no wish to detain me further?" "We will consider that, and let you know in a moment, if you will wait outside." And then, when alone, the officials deliberated. "You have another man here, Chief; let him go with this Italian." They called in Ripaldi and told him, "We will accept your services, monsieur, and you can begin your search at once.

"We do not smoke on duty," answered the Chief, rudely. "Well, well, let us say no more of that, and proceed to business. At last the net is drawing round this fine Countess." "Well, at any rate," said the detective aloud, returning to the General, "these beads were found in the compartment of the murdered man. I could not--she was not in the car." "We know better. "We had better commit him to Mazas and hold him there in solitary confinement under our hands.

Even his sleepiness, his stupidity, are likely to have been assumed." "I do not think he is acting; he has not the ability to deceive us like that." "Well, then, what if the Countess took him the second drink?" "Oh! "We have touch of him if we want him, as we may." How much they might want him they only realized when they got further in their inquiry! This is of the utmost, of the very first, importance." "Well, gentlemen, I will tell you. "Well, gentlemen, I was now satisfied in my own mind that this was some artful attempt of his to communicate with the lady, and had she fallen in with it, I should have immediately informed you, the proper authorities. come to the essential." "Well, in the middle of the journey, when we were about the Pont Henri Quatre, he said, 'Figure to yourself, my friend, that it is now near noon, that nothing has passed my lips since before daylight at Laroche. "Well, well!

Beaumont le Hardi, the Chief went on pleasantly: "Well, M.

"Well!

Nothing, or, if anything, it is of the smallest, and it is already jeopardized, if not absolutely lost." "We have at least gained the positive assurance of the guilt of certain individuals." "Whom you have allowed to slip through your fingers." "Ah, not so, M. "Well, that will be something, yet not much. "We will call there on our way, and you can tell the porter. We are now willing to let you go free, because--because--" "We have caught the person, the lady you helped to escape," blurted out the detective, unable to resist making the point. "Well?" said the Judge at last, when he met the General's eye. Call in an expert; you will find I am right." "Well, well," said the Judge, after a pause, "let us grant your position for the moment. "We may help you in both these difficulties, gentlemen," said Sir Charles, pleasantly. "We will all go to the Morgue. "We have come for an identification.

"We hoped you would recognize the corpse at once." "That?

Floçon; "we will discuss that fully, but not here.

"Well, do you still deny? Let me out." "We are here, my dear, just as you require us. /

He was one of those in the sleeping-car, I think?THE ROME EXPRESS CHAPTER I The Rome Express, the direttissimo, or most direct, was approaching Paris one morning in March, when it became known to the occupants of the sleeping-car that there was something amiss, very much amiss, in the car. Of those in the sleeping-car, seven in number, six had been seen in the restaurant, or about the platform; the seventh, a lady, had not stirred. "Any way, the thing's done now." The train had pulled up in obedience to the signal of alarm given by some one in the sleeping-car, but by whom it was impossible to say. Meanwhile, the sleeping-car, with its contents, especially the corpse of the victim, was shunted into a siding, and sentries were placed on it at both ends. "Those in the sleeping-car only--" "Tut, tut! Floçon was soon installed in a room actually communicating with the waiting-room, and as a preliminary of the first importance, taking precedence even of the examination of the sleeping-car, he ordered the porter to be brought in to answer certain questions. So he left Block to show the Countess back to the waiting-room, and, motioning to the porter that he might also go, the Chief hastened to the sleeping-car, the examination of which, too long delayed, claimed his urgent attention. The sleeping-car, as I have said, had been side-tracked, its doors were sealed, and it was under strict watch and ward. She had not been in the sleeping-car at the time of the murder, while the Countess as certainly was; and, according to strong presumption, in the very compartment where the deed was done. I see," he referred to the rough plan of the sleeping-car prepared by M. Floçon had picked up in the sleeping-car near the conductor's seat.

"What have we against her?" said the Judge, as soon as they had gained the absolute privacy of the sleeping-car. When I saw him walk straight to the sleeping-car, and ask the conductor for 7 and 8, I knew that his plans had been laid, and that he was on the point of leaving Rome secretly. What will you think when I tell you that this very Quadling--this friend, acquaintance, call him what you please, but at least intimate enough to pay her a visit on the eve of a long journey--was the man found murdered in the sleeping-car?" "Can it be possible? At that moment I saw, or thought I saw, the end of a skirt disappearing into the sleeping-car. This Quadling was the man murdered in the sleeping-car. He was one of those in the sleeping-car, I think? The body from the Lyons Station --he of the murder in the sleeping-car--is it yet arrived?" "But surely, at your service, Chief," replied the old man, obsequiously. First among the many damning evidences of his guilt was the missing pocketbook of the porter of the sleeping-car. "Witness was much surprised to find him in the sleeping-car, but had no talk to him till the following morning, when he asked her to obtain an interview for him with the Countess, and promised a large reward. In no other way can her presence in the sleeping-car between Laroche and Paris be accounted for-presence which she does not deny.) "Witness at last reluctantly confessed that she entered the compartment where the murder was committed, and at a critical moment.

When she appeared before the Judge, with whom Sir Charles Collingham and Colonel Papillon were seated, the former at once pointed out that she was wearing a dark mantle trimmed with the same sort of passementerie as that picked up in the sleeping-car. Then, in a daring effort to extricate himself, he intimidated the woman Petitpré, and forced her to escape through the sleeping-car window.

/

My uncertainty, hesitation, the vacillation of my suspicions, lose me the credit of being an astute detective--of being an agent for whom there's no such thing as a mystery." Worthy M.My uncertainty, hesitation, the vacillation of my suspicions, lose me the credit of being an astute detective--of being an agent for whom there's no such thing as a mystery." Worthy M. /

Ablewhite, to try a furnished house at Brighton.PROLOGUE THE STORMING OF SERINGAPATAM (1799) Extracted from a Family Paper I address these lines--written in India--to my relatives in England. My object is to explain the motive which has induced me to refuse the right hand of friendship to my cousin, John Herncastle. The reserve which I have hitherto maintained in this matter has been misinterpreted by members of my family whose good opinion I cannot consent to forfeit. I request them to suspend their decision until they have read my narrative. And I declare, on my word of honour, that what I am now about to write is, strictly and literally, the truth. The private difference between my cousin and me took its rise in a great public event in which we were both concerned--the storming of Seringapatam, under General Baird, on the 4th of May, 1799. In order that the circumstances may be clearly understood, I must revert for a moment to the period before the assault, and to the stories current in our camp of the treasure in jewels and gold stored up in the Palace of Seringapatam.

II One of the wildest of these stories related to a Yellow Diamond--a famous gem in the native annals of India. The earliest known traditions describe the stone as having been set in the forehead of the four-handed Indian god who typifies the Moon. Partly from its peculiar colour, partly from a superstition which represented it as feeling the influence of the deity whom it adorned, and growing and lessening in lustre with the waxing and waning of the moon, it first gained the name by which it continues to be known in India to this day--the name of THE MOONSTONE.

A similar superstition was once prevalent, as I have heard, in ancient Greece and Rome; not applying, however (as in India), to a diamond devoted to the service of a god, but to a semi-transparent stone of the inferior order of gems, supposed to be affected by the lunar influences--the moon, in this latter case also, giving the name by which the stone is still known to collectors in our own time. At that date, the Mohammedan conqueror, Mahmoud of Ghizni, crossed India; seized on the holy city of Somnauth; and stripped of its treasures the famous temple, which had stood for centuries--the shrine of Hindoo pilgrimage, and the wonder of the Eastern world. Preserved by three Brahmins, the inviolate deity, bearing the Yellow Diamond in its forehead, was removed by night, and was transported to the second of the sacred cities of India--the city of Benares. Here, in a new shrine--in a hall inlaid with precious stones, under a roof supported by pillars of gold--the moon-god was set up and worshipped. Here, on the night when the shrine was completed, Vishnu the Preserver appeared to the three Brahmins in a dream. The deity commanded that the Moonstone should be watched, from that time forth, by three priests in turn, night and day, to the end of the generations of men. The deity predicted certain disaster to the presumptuous mortal who laid hands on the sacred gem, and to all of his house and name who received it after him.

And the Brahmins caused the prophecy to be written over the gates of the shrine in letters of gold. One age followed another--and still, generation after generation, the successors of the three Brahmins watched their priceless Moonstone, night and day. The shrine of the four-handed god was polluted by the slaughter of sacred animals; the images of the deities were broken in pieces; and the Moonstone was seized by an officer of rank in the army of Aurungzebe. Powerless to recover their lost treasure by open force, the three guardian priests followed and watched it in disguise. The generations succeeded each other; the warrior who had committed the sacrilege perished miserably; the Moonstone passed (carrying its curse with it) from one lawless Mohammedan hand to another; and still, through all chances and changes, the successors of the three guardian priests kept their watch, waiting the day when the will of Vishnu the Preserver should restore to them their sacred gem. Time rolled on from the first to the last years of the eighteenth Christian century. The Diamond fell into the possession of Tippoo, Sultan of Seringapatam, who caused it to be placed as an ornament in the handle of a dagger, and who commanded it to be kept among the choicest treasures of his armoury. There were three officers of Tippoo’s household, strangers to the rest, who had won their master’s confidence by conforming, or appearing to conform, to the Mussulman faith; and to those three men report pointed as the three priests in disguise. III So, as told in our camp, ran the fanciful story of the Moonstone.

It made no serious impression on any of us except my cousin--whose love of the marvellous induced him to believe it. He declared, in his boastful way, that we should see the Diamond on his finger, if the English army took Seringapatam. Let me now take you on to the day of the assault. I never saw him when we forded the river; when we planted the English flag in the first breach; when we crossed the ditch beyond; and, fighting every inch of our way, entered the town. We were each attached to a party sent out by the general’s orders to prevent the plunder and confusion which followed our conquest. The camp-followers committed deplorable excesses; and, worse still, the soldiers found their way, by a guarded door, into the treasury of the Palace, and loaded themselves with gold and jewels. It was in the court outside the treasury that my cousin and I met, to enforce the laws of discipline on our own soldiers. Herncastle’s fiery temper had been, as I could plainly see, exasperated to a kind of frenzy by the terrible slaughter through which we had passed.

He was very unfit, in my opinion, to perform the duty that had been entrusted to him. All sorts of rough jests and catchwords were bandied about among them; and the story of the Diamond turned up again unexpectedly, in the form of a mischievous joke. “Who’s got the Moonstone?” was the rallying cry which perpetually caused the plundering, as soon as it was stopped in one place, to break out in another.

While I was still vainly trying to establish order, I heard a frightful yelling on the other side of the courtyard, and at once ran towards the cries, in dread of finding some new outbreak of the pillage in that direction. I got to an open door, and saw the bodies of two Indians (by their dress, as I guessed, officers of the palace) lying across the entrance, dead. A cry inside hurried me into a room, which appeared to serve as an armoury. A third Indian, mortally wounded, was sinking at the feet of a man whose back was towards me. The man turned at the instant when I came in, and I saw John Herncastle, with a torch in one hand, and a dagger dripping with blood in the other. A stone, set like a pommel, in the end of the dagger’s handle, flashed in the torchlight, as he turned on me, like a gleam of fire. The dying Indian sank to his knees, pointed to the dagger in Herncastle’s hand, and said, in his native language--“The Moonstone will have its vengeance yet on you and yours!” He spoke those words, and fell dead on the floor. My cousin rushed to meet them, like a madman. “Clear the room!” he shouted to me, “and set a guard on the door!” The men fell back as he threw himself on them with his torch and his dagger. I put two sentinels of my own company, on whom I could rely, to keep the door.

The provost-marshal was in attendance, to prove that the General was in earnest; and in the throng that followed the proclamation, Herncastle and I met again. “Tell me first,” I said, “how the Indian in the armoury met his death, and what those last words meant, when he pointed to the dagger in your hand.” “The Indian met his death, as I suppose, by a mortal wound,” said Herncastle. I determined to give him another chance. “Is that all you have to tell me?” I asked. IV I beg it to be understood that what I write here about my cousin (unless some necessity should arise for making it public) is for the information of the family only. Herncastle has said nothing that can justify me in speaking to our commanding officer. He has been taunted more than once about the Diamond, by those who recollect his angry outbreak before the assault; but, as may easily be imagined, his own remembrance of the circumstances under which I surprised him in the armoury has been enough to keep him silent. It is reported that he means to exchange into another regiment, avowedly for the purpose of separating himself from ME. Whether this be true or not, I cannot prevail upon myself to become his accuser--and I think with good reason.

If I made the matter public, I have no evidence but moral evidence to bring forward.

It is true that I heard the dying Indian’s words; but if those words were pronounced to be the ravings of delirium, how could I contradict the assertion from my own knowledge? Let our relatives, on either side, form their own opinion on what I have written, and decide for themselves whether the aversion I now feel towards this man is well or ill founded. Although I attach no sort of credit to the fantastic Indian legend of the gem, I must acknowledge, before I conclude, that I am influenced by a certain superstition of my own in this matter. I am not only persuaded of Herncastle’s guilt; I am even fanciful enough to believe that he will live to regret it, if he keeps the Diamond; and that others will live to regret taking it from him, if he gives the Diamond away. THE STORY FIRST PERIOD THE LOSS OF THE DIAMOND (1848) The events related by GABRIEL BETTEREDGE, house-steward in the service of JULIA, LADY VERINDER. CHAPTER I In the first part of ROBINSON CRUSOE, at page one hundred and twenty-nine, you will find it thus written: “Now I saw, though too late, the Folly of beginning a Work before we count the Cost, and before we judge rightly of our own Strength to go through with it.” Only yesterday, I opened my ROBINSON CRUSOE at that place. Franklin, “I have been to the lawyer’s about some family matters; and, among other things, we have been talking of the loss of the Indian Diamond, in my aunt’s house in Yorkshire, two years since. Bruff thinks as I think, that the whole story ought, in the interests of truth, to be placed on record in writing--and the sooner the better.” Not perceiving his drift yet, and thinking it always desirable for the sake of peace and quietness to be on the lawyer’s side, I said I thought so too. The memories of innocent people may suffer, hereafter, for want of a record of the facts to which those who come after us can appeal. There can be no doubt that this strange family story of ours ought to be told.

Bruff and I together have hit on the right way of telling it.” Very satisfactory to both of them, no doubt. But I failed to see what I myself had to do with it, so far. “We have certain events to relate,” Mr. Starting from these plain facts, the idea is that we should all write the story of the Moonstone in turn--as far as our own personal experience extends, and no farther. We must begin by showing how the Diamond first fell into the hands of my uncle Herncastle, when he was serving in India fifty years since. This prefatory narrative I have already got by me in the form of an old family paper, which relates the necessary particulars on the authority of an eye-witness. The next thing to do is to tell how the Diamond found its way into my aunt’s house in Yorkshire, two years ago, and how it came to be lost in little more than twelve hours afterwards. So you must take the pen in hand, and start the story.” In those terms I was informed of what my personal concern was with the matter of the Diamond. If you are curious to know what course I took under the circumstances, I beg to inform you that I did what you would probably have done in my place.

I modestly declared myself to be quite unequal to the task imposed upon me--and I privately felt, all the time, that I was quite clever enough to perform it, if I only gave my own abilities a fair chance. He declined to believe in my modesty; and he insisted on giving my abilities a fair chance. As soon as his back was turned, I went to my writing desk to start the story. There I have sat helpless (in spite of my abilities) ever since; seeing what Robinson Crusoe saw, as quoted above--namely, the folly of beginning a work before we count the cost, and before we judge rightly of our own strength to go through with it. Please to remember, I opened the book by accident, at that bit, only the day before I rashly undertook the business now in hand; and, allow me to ask--if THAT isn’t prophecy, what is? Though turned seventy, I possess an active memory, and legs to correspond. You are not to take it, if you please, as the saying of an ignorant man, when I express my opinion that such a book as ROBINSON CRUSOE never was written, and never will be written again. I have tried that book for years--generally in combination with a pipe of tobacco--and I have found it my friend in need in all the necessities of this mortal life. In past times when my wife plagued me; in present times when I have had a drop too much--ROBINSON CRUSOE. I have worn out six stout ROBINSON CRUSOES with hard work in my service.

I took a drop too much on the strength of it; and ROBINSON CRUSOE put me right again. Price four shillings and sixpence, bound in blue, with a picture into the bargain. Still, this don’t look much like starting the story of the Diamond--does it? I seem to be wandering off in search of Lord knows what, Lord knows where. We will take a new sheet of paper, if you please, and begin over again, with my best respects to you. Now the Diamond could never have been in our house, where it was lost, if it had not been made a present of to my lady’s daughter; and my lady’s daughter would never have been in existence to have the present, if it had not been for my lady who (with pain and travail) produced her into the world. I went into the service of the old lord, their father (thank God, we have got nothing to do with him, in this business of the Diamond; he had the longest tongue and the shortest temper of any man, high or low, I ever met with)--I say, I went into the service of the old lord, as page-boy in waiting on the three honourable young ladies, at the age of fifteen years. An excellent man, who only wanted somebody to manage him; and, between ourselves, he found somebody to do it; and what is more, he throve on it and grew fat on it, and lived happy and died easy on it, dating from the day when my lady took him to church to be married, to the day when she relieved him of his last breath, and closed his eyes for ever.

I have omitted to state that I went with the bride to the bride’s husband’s house and lands down here. “Sir John,” she says, “I can’t do without Gabriel Betteredge.” “My lady,” says Sir John, “I can’t do without him, either.” That was his way with her--and that was how I went into his service. It was all one to me where I went, so long as my mistress and I were together. Seeing that my lady took an interest in the out-of-door work, and the farms, and such like, I took an interest in them too--with all the more reason that I was a small farmer’s seventh son myself. Pension him liberally, and let Gabriel Betteredge have his place.” On the Tuesday as it might be, Sir John says, “My lady, the bailiff is pensioned liberally; and Gabriel Betteredge has got his place.” You hear more than enough of married people living together miserably. Here is an example to the contrary. Let it be a warning to some of you, and an encouragement to others.

In the meantime, I will go on with my story. Placed in a position of trust and honour, with a little cottage of my own to live in, with my rounds on the estate to occupy me in the morning, and my accounts in the afternoon, and my pipe and my ROBINSON CRUSOE in the evening--what more could I possibly want to make me happy? Selina, being my wife, couldn’t charge for her board, and would have to give me her services for nothing. I put it to my mistress, as in duty bound, just as I had put it to myself. “I have been turning Selina Goby over in my mind,” I said, “and I think, my lady, it will be cheaper to marry her than to keep her.” My lady burst out laughing, and said she didn’t know which to be most shocked at--my language or my principles. Understanding nothing myself but that I was free to put it next to Selina, I went and put it accordingly. As my time drew nearer, and there got to be talk of my having a new coat for the ceremony, my mind began to misgive me.

I have compared notes with other men as to what they felt while they were in my interesting situation; and they have all acknowledged that, about a week before it happened, they privately wished themselves out of it.

I went a trifle further than that myself; I actually rose up, as it were, and tried to get out of it. I was too just a man to expect she would let me off for nothing. Compensation to the woman when the man gets out of it, is one of the laws of England. In obedience to the laws, and after turning it over carefully in my mind, I offered Selina Goby a feather-bed and fifty shillings to be off the bargain. You will hardly believe it, but it is nevertheless true--she was fool enough to refuse. How it was I don’t understand, but we always seemed to be getting, with the best of motives, in one another’s way. When I wanted to go up-stairs, there was my wife coming down; or when my wife wanted to go down, there was I coming up.

That is married life, according to my experience of it. After five years of misunderstandings on the stairs, it pleased an all-wise Providence to relieve us of each other by taking my wife. I have written to very poor purpose of my lady, if you require to be told that my little Penelope was taken care of, under my good mistress’s own eye, and was sent to school and taught, and made a sharp girl, and promoted, when old enough, to be Miss Rachel’s own maid. As for me, I went on with my business as bailiff year after year up to Christmas 1847, when there came a change in my life. On that day, my lady invited herself to a cup of tea alone with me in my cottage. She remarked that, reckoning from the year when I started as page-boy in the time of the old lord, I had been more than fifty years in her service, and she put into my hands a beautiful waistcoat of wool that she had worked herself, to keep me warm in the bitter winter weather. I received this magnificent present quite at a loss to find words to thank my mistress with for the honour she had done me.

To my great astonishment, it turned out, however, that the waistcoat was not an honour, but a bribe. My lady had discovered that I was getting old before I had discovered it myself, and she had come to my cottage to wheedle me (if I may use such an expression) into giving up my hard out-of-door work as bailiff, and taking my ease for the rest of my days as steward in the house. But my mistress knew the weak side of me; she put it as a favour to herself.

The perturbation in my mind, in regard to thinking about it, being truly dreadful after my lady had gone away, I applied the remedy which I have never yet found to fail me in cases of doubt and emergency. I smoked a pipe and took a turn at ROBINSON CRUSOE. Before I had occupied myself with that extraordinary book five minutes, I came on a comforting bit (page one hundred and fifty-eight), as follows: “To-day we love, what to-morrow we hate.” I saw my way clear directly. To-day I was all for continuing to be farm-bailiff; to-morrow, on the authority of ROBINSON CRUSOE, I should be all the other way. Take myself to-morrow while in to-morrow’s humour, and the thing was done. My mind being relieved in this manner, I went to sleep that night in the character of Lady Verinder’s farm bailiff, and I woke up the next morning in the character of Lady Verinder’s house-steward. My daughter Penelope has just looked over my shoulder to see what I have done so far. She says what I have done so far isn’t in the least what I was wanted to do.

I am asked to tell the story of the Diamond and, instead of that, I have been telling the story of my own self.

Curious, and quite beyond me to account for. What’s to be done now? Nothing that I know of, except for you to keep your temper, and for me to begin it all over again for the third time. CHAPTER III The question of how I am to start the story properly I have tried to settle in two ways. First, by scratching my head, which led to nothing. Franklin Blake was expected on a visit to the house. When you come to fix your memory with a date in this way, it is wonderful what your memory will pick up for you upon that compulsion.

The only difficulty is to fetch out the dates, in the first place. This Penelope offers to do for me by looking into her own diary, which she was taught to keep when she was at school, and which she has gone on keeping ever since. In answer to an improvement on this notion, devised by myself, namely, that she should tell the story instead of me, out of her own diary, Penelope observes, with a fierce look and a red face, that her journal is for her own private eye, and that no living creature shall ever know what is in it but herself. Beginning, then, on Penelope’s plan, I beg to mention that I was specially called one Wednesday morning into my lady’s own sitting-room, the date being the twenty-fourth of May, Eighteen hundred and forty-eight. He has been staying with his father in London, and he is coming to us to-morrow to stop till next month, and keep Rachel’s birthday.” If I had had a hat in my hand, nothing but respect would have prevented me from throwing that hat up to the ceiling. He was, out of all sight (as I remember him), the nicest boy that ever spun a top or broke a window. Miss Rachel, who was present, and to whom I made that remark, observed, in return, that SHE remembered him as the most atrocious tyrant that ever tortured a doll, and the hardest driver of an exhausted little girl in string harness that England could produce. Franklin should have passed all the years, from the time when he was a boy to the time when he was a man, out of his own country. I answer, because his father had the misfortune to be next heir to a Dukedom, and not to be able to prove it. How many years he went on worrying the tribunals of his country to turn out the Duke in possession, and to put himself in the Duke’s place--how many lawyer’s purses he filled to bursting, and how many otherwise harmless people he set by the ears together disputing whether he was right or wrong--is more by a great deal than I can reckon up.

His wife died, and two of his three children died, before the tribunals could make up their minds to show him the door and take no more of his money. Blake discovered that the only way of being even with his country for the manner in which it had treated him, was not to let his country have the honour of educating his son. “How can I trust my native institutions,” was the form in which he put it, “after the way in which my native institutions have behaved to ME?” Add to this, that Mr. Master Franklin was taken from us in England, and was sent to institutions which his father COULD trust, in that superior country, Germany; Mr.

Blake himself, you will observe, remaining snug in England, to improve his fellow-countrymen in the Parliament House, and to publish a statement on the subject of the Duke in possession, which has remained an unfinished statement from that day to this. thank God, that’s told!

Leave him to the Dukedom; and let you and I stick to the Diamond. The Diamond takes us back to Mr. Franklin, who was the innocent means of bringing that unlucky jewel into the house. He wrote every now and then; sometimes to my lady, sometimes to Miss Rachel, and sometimes to me. We had had a transaction together, before he left, which consisted in his borrowing of me a ball of string, a four-bladed knife, and seven-and-sixpence in money--the colour of which last I have not seen, and never expect to see again. His letters to me chiefly related to borrowing more.

His mother’s fortune (seven hundred a year) fell to him when he came of age, and ran through him, as it might be through a sieve. He lived here, there, and everywhere; his address (as he used to put it himself) being “Post Office, Europe--to be left till called for.” Twice over, he made up his mind to come back to England and see us; and twice over (saving your presence), some unmentionable woman stood in the way and stopped him. His third attempt succeeded, as you know already from what my lady told me. On Thursday the twenty-fifth of May, we were to see for the first time what our nice boy had grown to be as a man. Franklin Blake came down to our house. Franklin till dinner-time) drove out to lunch with some friends in the neighbourhood. Then, being butler in my lady’s establishment, as well as steward (at my own particular request, mind, and because it vexed me to see anybody but myself in possession of the key of the late Sir John’s cellar)--then, I say, I fetched up some of our famous Latour claret, and set it in the warm summer air to take off the chill before dinner.

Concluding to set myself in the warm summer air next--seeing that what is good for old claret is equally good for old age--I took up my beehive chair to go out into the back court, when I was stopped by hearing a sound like the soft beating of a drum, on the terrace in front of my lady’s residence. Going round to the terrace, I found three mahogany-coloured Indians, in white linen frocks and trousers, looking up at the house. Behind them stood a little delicate-looking light-haired English boy carrying a bag. I judged the fellows to be strolling conjurors, and the boy with the bag to be carrying the tools of their trade. He requested permission to show his tricks in the presence of the lady of the house.

I am generally all for amusement, and the last person in the world to distrust another person because he happens to be a few shades darker than myself.

But the best of us have our weaknesses--and my weakness, when I know a family plate-basket to be out on a pantry-table, is to be instantly reminded of that basket by the sight of a strolling stranger whose manners are superior to my own. On my side, I returned to my beehive chair, and set myself down on the sunny side of the court, and fell (if the truth must be owned), not exactly into a sleep, but into the next best thing to it. She wanted to have the three Indian jugglers instantly taken up; for this reason, namely, that they knew who was coming from London to visit us, and that they meant some mischief to Mr. Taking it into their heads that the boy was ill-used by the foreigners--for no reason that I could discover, except that he was pretty and delicate-looking--the two girls had stolen along the inner side of the hedge between us and the road, and had watched the proceedings of the foreigners on the outer side. Then they all turned to their little English boy, as if they expected HIM to help them. And then the chief Indian, who spoke English, said to the boy, “Hold out your hand.” On hearing those dreadful words, my daughter Penelope said she didn’t know what prevented her heart from flying straight out of her. The Indian, thereupon, asked him (not at all unkindly), whether he would like to be sent back to London, and left where they had found him, sleeping in an empty basket in a market--a hungry, ragged, and forsaken little boy. Upon that, the Indian took a bottle from his bosom, and poured out of it some black stuff, like ink, into the palm of the boy’s hand. The Indian--first touching the boy’s head, and making signs over it in the air--then said, “Look.” The boy became quite stiff, and stood like a statue, looking into the ink in the hollow of his hand. (So far, it seemed to me to be juggling, accompanied by a foolish waste of ink.

I was beginning to feel sleepy again, when Penelope’s next words stirred me up.) The Indians looked up the road and down the road once more--and then the chief Indian said these words to the boy; “See the English gentleman from foreign parts.” The boy said, “I see him.” The Indian said, “Is it on the road to this house, and on no other, that the English gentleman will travel to-day?” The boy said, “It is on the road to this house, and on no other, that the English gentleman will travel to-day.” The Indian put a second question--after waiting a little first. He said: “Has the English gentleman got It about him?” The boy answered--also, after waiting a little first--“Yes.” The Indian put a third and last question: “Will the English gentleman come here, as he has promised to come, at the close of day?” The boy said, “I can’t tell.” The Indian asked why. I can see no more to-day.” With that the catechism ended. The chief Indian said something in his own language to the other two, pointing to the boy, and pointing towards the town, in which (as we afterwards discovered) they were lodged. After that, they all went on their way towards the town, and the girls saw them no more. Franklin’s arrival talked of among the servants out-of-doors, and saw his way to making a little money by it. Second, that he and his men and boy (with a view to making the said money) meant to hang about till they saw my lady drive home, and then to come back, and foretell Mr.

Third, that Penelope had heard them rehearsing their hocus-pocus, like actors rehearsing a play. Fourth, that I should do well to have an eye, that evening, on the plate-basket. Fifth, that Penelope would do well to cool down, and leave me, her father, to doze off again in the sun. That appeared to me to be the sensible view. If you know anything of the ways of young women, you won’t be surprised to hear that Penelope wouldn’t take it. The moral of the thing was serious, according to my daughter. Franklin comes.” I winked to show I meant that in joke.

Penelope took it quite seriously. “And see whether HE thinks it a laughing matter, too.” With that parting shot, my daughter left me. Franklin--mainly to set Penelope’s mind at rest.

But as I don’t wish to raise your expectations and then disappoint them, I will take leave to warn you here--before we go any further--that you won’t find the ghost of a joke in our conversation on the subject of the jugglers. To my great surprise, Mr. Franklin, like Penelope, took the thing seriously. How seriously, you will understand, when I tell you that, in his opinion, “It” meant the Moonstone.

CHAPTER IV I am truly sorry to detain you over me and my beehive chair. But things must be put down in their places, as things actually happened--and you must please to jog on a little while longer with me, in expectation of Mr. Before I had time to doze off again, after my daughter Penelope had left me, I was disturbed by a rattling of plates and dishes in the servants’ hall, which meant that dinner was ready. Taking my own meals in my own sitting-room, I had nothing to do with the servants’ dinner, except to wish them a good stomach to it all round, previous to composing myself once more in my chair. I was straight in her way out; and I observed, as she asked me to let her by, that she had a sulky face--a thing which, as head of the servants, I never allow, on principle, to pass me without inquiry. “What’s wrong now, Nancy?” Nancy tried to push by, without answering; upon which I rose up, and took her by the ear.

She is a nice plump young lass, and it is customary with me to adopt that manner of showing that I personally approve of a girl. “And I’m sent to fetch her in. Having a kind of pity for our second housemaid (why, you shall presently know), and seeing in Nancy’s face, that she would fetch her fellow-servant in with more hard words than might be needful under the circumstances, it struck me that I had nothing particular to do, and that I might as well fetch Rosanna myself; giving her a hint to be punctual in future, which I knew she would take kindly from ME. “At the sands, of course!” says Nancy, with a toss of her head. “She had another of her fainting fits this morning, and she asked to go out and get a breath of fresh air. I have no patience with her!” “Go back to your dinner, my girl,” I said. Well, I took my stick, and set off for the sands. it won’t do to set off yet. I am sorry again to detain you; but you really must hear the story of the sands, and the story of Rosanna--for this reason, that the matter of the Diamond touches them both nearly. How hard I try to get on with my statement without stopping by the way, and how badly I succeed!

Rosanna (to put the Person before the Thing, which is but common politeness) was the only new servant in our house. About four months before the time I am writing of, my lady had been in London, and had gone over a Reformatory, intended to save forlorn women from drifting back into bad ways, after they had got released from prison. The matron, seeing my lady took an interest in the place, pointed out a girl to her, named Rosanna Spearman, and told her a most miserable story, which I haven’t the heart to repeat here; for I don’t like to be made wretched without any use, and no more do you. The upshot of it was, that Rosanna Spearman had been a thief, and not being of the sort that get up Companies in the City, and rob from thousands, instead of only robbing from one, the law laid hold of her, and the prison and the reformatory followed the lead of the law. The matron’s opinion of Rosanna was (in spite of what she had done) that the girl was one in a thousand, and that she only wanted a chance to prove herself worthy of any Christian woman’s interest in her. My lady (being a Christian woman, if ever there was one yet) said to the matron, upon that, “Rosanna Spearman shall have her chance, in my service.” In a week afterwards, Rosanna Spearman entered this establishment as our second housemaid.

Not a soul was told the girl’s story, excepting Miss Rachel and me. My lady, doing me the honour to consult me about most things, consulted me about Rosanna. Having fallen a good deal latterly into the late Sir John’s way of always agreeing with my lady, I agreed with her heartily about Rosanna Spearman. A fairer chance no girl could have had than was given to this poor girl of ours. She had her wages and her privileges, like the rest of them; and every now and then a friendly word from my lady, in private, to encourage her.

In return, she showed herself, I am bound to say, well worthy of the kind treatment bestowed upon her. But, somehow, she failed to make friends among the other women servants, excepting my daughter Penelope, who was always kind to Rosanna, though never intimate with her. I hardly know what the girl did to offend them. There was certainly no beauty about her to make the others envious; she was the plainest woman in the house, with the additional misfortune of having one shoulder bigger than the other. What the servants chiefly resented, I think, was her silent tongue and her solitary ways. And when it came to her turn to go out, nine times out of ten she quietly put on her bonnet, and had her turn by herself. She never quarrelled, she never took offence; she only kept a certain distance, obstinately and civilly, between the rest of them and herself. Add to this that, plain as she was, there was just a dash of something that wasn’t like a housemaid, and that WAS like a lady, about her.

All I can say is, that the other women pounced on it like lightning the first day she came into the house, and said (which was most unjust) that Rosanna Spearman gave herself airs. Having now told the story of Rosanna, I have only to notice one of the many queer ways of this strange girl to get on next to the story of the sands. That one I acknowledge to be a horrid walk. The sand-hills here run down to the sea, and end in two spits of rock jutting out opposite each other, till you lose sight of them in the water. At the turn of the tide, something goes on in the unknown deeps below, which sets the whole face of the quicksand shivering and trembling in a manner most remarkable to see, and which has given to it, among the people in our parts, the name of the Shivering Sand. Winter and summer, when the tide flows over the quicksand, the sea seems to leave the waves behind it on the bank, and rolls its waters in smoothly with a heave, and covers the sand in silence.

No boat ever ventures into this bay. No children from our fishing-village, called Cobb’s Hole, ever come here to play. The very birds of the air, as it seems to me, give the Shivering Sand a wide berth. That a young woman, with dozens of nice walks to choose from, and company to go with her, if she only said “Come!” should prefer this place, and should sit and work or read in it, all alone, when it’s her turn out, I grant you, passes belief. It’s true, nevertheless, account for it as you may, that this was Rosanna Spearman’s favourite walk, except when she went once or twice to Cobb’s Hole, to see the only friend she had in our neighbourhood, of whom more anon.

It’s also true that I was now setting out for this same place, to fetch the girl in to dinner, which brings us round happily to our former point, and starts us fair again on our way to the sands. When I got out, through the sand-hills, on to the beach, there she was, in her little straw bonnet, and her plain grey cloak that she always wore to hide her deformed shoulder as much as might be--there she was, all alone, looking out on the quicksand and the sea. Not looking me in the face being another of the proceedings, which, as head of the servants, I never allow, on principle, to pass without inquiry--I turned her round my way, and saw that she was crying. My bandanna handkerchief--one of six beauties given to me by my lady--was handy in my pocket. I took it out, and I said to Rosanna, “Come and sit down, my dear, on the slope of the beach along with me. I’ll dry your eyes for you first, and then I’ll make so bold as to ask what you have been crying about.” When you come to my age, you will find sitting down on the slope of a beach a much longer job than you think it now. By the time I was settled, Rosanna had dried her own eyes with a very inferior handkerchief to mine--cheap cambric.

She looked very quiet, and very wretched; but she sat down by me like a good girl, when I told her. When you want to comfort a woman by the shortest way, take her on your knee. “My past life still comes back to me sometimes.” “Come, come, my girl,” I said, “your past life is all sponged out. Why can’t you forget it?” She took me by one of the lappets of my coat. The day before, Rosanna had taken out a spot for me on the lappet of my coat, with a new composition, warranted to remove anything. The girl pointed to that place, and shook her head.

Betteredge--the place shows!” A remark which takes a man unawares by means of his own coat is not an easy remark to answer. Something in the girl herself, too, made me particularly sorry for her just then.

Not feeling myself able to comfort her, there was only one other thing to do. That thing was--to take her in to dinner. “You’re late for dinner, Rosanna--and I have come to fetch you in.” “You, Mr. “They told Nancy to fetch you,” I said.

“But thought you might like your scolding better, my dear, if it came from me.” Instead of helping me up, the poor thing stole her hand into mine, and gave it a little squeeze. She tried hard to keep from crying again, and succeeded--for which I respected her. “I don’t want any dinner to-day--let me bide a little longer here.” “What makes you like to be here?” I asked.

“What is it that brings you everlastingly to this miserable place?” “Something draws me to it,” says the girl, making images with her finger in the sand. “I try to keep away from it, and I can’t. Betteredge, I think that my grave is waiting for me here.” “There’s roast mutton and suet-pudding waiting for you!” says I.

“Go in to dinner directly. This is what comes, Rosanna, of thinking on an empty stomach!” I spoke severely, being naturally indignant (at my time of life) to hear a young woman of five-and-twenty talking about her latter end! She didn’t seem to hear me: she put her hand on my shoulder, and kept me where I was, sitting by her side. Betteredge--you know I try to deserve your kindness, and my lady’s confidence in me. But I wonder sometimes whether the life here is too quiet and too good for such a woman as I am, after all I have gone through, Mr. It’s more lonely to me to be among the other servants, knowing I am not what they are, than it is to be here. My lady doesn’t know, the matron at the reformatory doesn’t know, what a dreadful reproach honest people are in themselves to a woman like me. Please not to tell my lady I am discontented--I am not. My mind’s unquiet, sometimes, that’s all.” She snatched her hand off my shoulder, and suddenly pointed down to the quicksand. I have seen it dozens of times, and it’s always as new to me as if I had never seen it before!” I looked where she pointed.

The tide was on the turn, and the horrid sand began to shiver. “Do you know what it looks like to ME?” says Rosanna, catching me by the shoulder again. “It looks as if it had hundreds of suffocating people under it--all struggling to get to the surface, and all sinking lower and lower in the dreadful deeps! Throw a stone in, Mr. Throw a stone in, and let’s see the sand suck it down!” Here was unwholesome talk! Here was an empty stomach feeding on an unquiet mind! My answer--a pretty sharp one, in the poor girl’s own interests, I promise you!--was at my tongue’s end, when it was snapped short off on a sudden by a voice among the sand-hills shouting for me by my name. Rosanna started to her feet, and stood looking towards the voice. who is it?” she said softly, more to herself than to me.

There, coming out on us from among the hills, was a bright-eyed young gentleman, dressed in a beautiful fawn-coloured suit, with gloves and hat to match, with a rose in his button-hole, and a smile on his face that might have set the Shivering Sand itself smiling at him in return. Franklin, a little surprised to all appearance, look up from me to Rosanna. Following his lead, I looked at the girl too. Franklin’s eye; and she turned and left us suddenly, in a confusion quite unaccountable to my mind, without either making her curtsey to the gentleman or saying a word to me. “I wonder what she sees in me to surprise her?” “I suppose, sir,” I answered, drolling on our young gentleman’s Continental education, “it’s the varnish from foreign parts.” I set down here Mr.

Franklin’s careless question, and my foolish answer, as a consolation and encouragement to all stupid people--it being, as I have remarked, a great satisfaction to our inferior fellow-creatures to find that their betters are, on occasions, no brighter than they are. CHAPTER V The first thing I did, after we were left together alone, was to make a third attempt to get up from my seat on the sand. Franklin stopped me. “There is one advantage about this horrid place,” he said; “we have got it all to ourselves. Stay where you are, Betteredge; I have something to say to you.” While he was speaking, I was looking at him, and trying to see something of the boy I remembered, in the man before me. His complexion had got pale: his face, at the lower part was covered, to my great surprise and disappointment, with a curly brown beard and mustachios. He had a lively touch-and-go way with him, very pleasant and engaging, I admit; but nothing to compare with his free-and-easy manners of other times. To make matters worse, he had promised to be tall, and had not kept his promise.

He was neat, and slim, and well made; but he wasn’t by an inch or two up to the middle height. In short, he baffled me altogether. There I found our nice boy again, and there I concluded to stop in my investigation. “Welcome back to the old place, Mr. “I suspect, Betteredge, that I have been followed and watched in London, for the last three or four days; and I have travelled by the morning instead of the afternoon train, because I wanted to give a certain dark-looking stranger the slip.” Those words did more than surprise me. They brought back to my mind, in a flash, the three jugglers, and Penelope’s notion that they meant some mischief to Mr. “Tell me about the three Indians you have had at the house to-day,” says Mr. “It’s just possible, Betteredge, that my stranger and your three jugglers may turn out to be pieces of the same puzzle.” “How do you come to know about the jugglers, sir?” I asked, putting one question on the top of another, which was bad manners, I own. Franklin; “and Penelope told me.

Your daughter promised to be a pretty girl, Betteredge, and she has kept her promise. “One of them (if you will pardon my mentioning it) was never keeping to the matter in hand.

Franklin was welcome to THAT--but for forcing me to tell her foolish story at second hand. However, there was no help for it now but to mention the circumstances. When I had done, he repeated after me two of the questions which the chief juggler had put to the boy--seemingly for the purpose of fixing them well in his mind. “‘Is it on the road to this house, and on no other, that the English gentleman will travel to-day?’ ‘Has the English gentleman got It about him?’ I suspect,” says Mr. And ‘this,’ Betteredge, means my uncle Herncastle’s famous Diamond.” “Good Lord, sir!” I broke out, “how do you come to be in charge of the wicked Colonel’s Diamond?” “The wicked Colonel’s will has left his Diamond as a birthday present to my cousin Rachel,” says Mr. “And my father, as the wicked Colonel’s executor, has given it in charge to me to bring down here.” If the sea, then oozing in smoothly over the Shivering Sand, had been changed into dry land before my own eyes, I doubt if I could have been more surprised than I was when Mr. “The Colonel’s Diamond left to Miss Rachel!” says I. “And your father, sir, the Colonel’s executor!

Franklin, that your father wouldn’t have touched the Colonel with a pair of tongs!” “Strong language, Betteredge! He belonged to your time, not to mine. Tell me what you know about him, and I’ll tell you how my father came to be his executor, and more besides.

I have made some discoveries in London about my uncle Herncastle and his Diamond, which have rather an ugly look to my eyes; and I want you to confirm them. Search your memory, my old friend, and tell me why.” I saw he was in earnest, and I told him. Pay attention to it, or you will be all abroad, when we get deeper into the story. I hope you won’t take this freedom on my part amiss; it’s only a way I have of appealing to the gentle reader.

haven’t I seen you with the greatest authors in your hands, and don’t I know how ready your attention is to wander when it’s a book that asks for it, instead of a person? I spoke, a little way back, of my lady’s father, the old lord with the short temper and the long tongue. Two sons to begin with; then, after a long time, his wife broke out breeding again, and the three young ladies came briskly one after the other, as fast as the nature of things would permit; my mistress, as before mentioned, being the youngest and best of the three.

The second, the Honourable John, got a fine fortune left him by a relative, and went into the army. I look on the noble family of the Herncastles as being my nest; and I shall take it as a favour if I am not expected to enter into particulars on the subject of the Honourable John. He went into the army, beginning in the Guards. He had to leave the Guards before he was two-and-twenty--never mind why. They are very strict in the army, and they were too strict for the Honourable John. He went out to India to see whether they were equally strict there, and to try a little active service. In the matter of bravery (to give him his due), he was a mixture of bull-dog and game-cock, with a dash of the savage. Soon afterwards he changed into another regiment, and, in course of time, changed into a third. In the third he got his last step as lieutenant-colonel, and, getting that, got also a sunstroke, and came home to England.

He never attempted to sell it--not being in need of money, and not (to give him his due again) making money an object. He never gave it away; he never even showed it to any living soul. Some said he was afraid of its getting him into a difficulty with the military authorities; others (very ignorant indeed of the real nature of the man) said he was afraid, if he showed it, of its costing him his life. It was false to say that he was afraid; but it was a fact that his life had been twice threatened in India; and it was firmly believed that the Moonstone was at the bottom of it. When he came back to England, and found himself avoided by everybody, the Moonstone was thought to be at the bottom of it again. The men wouldn’t let him into their clubs; the women--more than one--whom he wanted to marry, refused him; friends and relations got too near-sighted to see him in the street. Some men in this mess would have tried to set themselves right with the world. But to give in, even when he was wrong, and had all society against him, was not the way of the Honourable John. We heard different rumours about him from time to time.

Sometimes they said he was given up to smoking opium and collecting old books; sometimes he was reported to be trying strange things in chemistry; sometimes he was seen carousing and amusing himself among the lowest people in the lowest slums of London. Once, and once only, after his return to England, I myself saw him, face to face. About two years before the time of which I am now writing, and about a year and a half before the time of his death, the Colonel came unexpectedly to my lady’s house in London. I received a message from the footman to say that a gentleman wanted to see me.

Going up into the hall, there I found the Colonel, wasted, and worn, and old, and shabby, and as wild and as wicked as ever. “Go up to my sister,” says he; “and say that I have called to wish my niece many happy returns of the day.” He had made attempts by letter, more than once already, to be reconciled with my lady, for no other purpose, I am firmly persuaded, than to annoy her. But this was the first time he had actually come to the house. I had it on the tip of my tongue to say that my mistress had a party that night. The servants stood staring at him, at a distance, as if he was a walking engine of destruction, loaded with powder and shot, and likely to go off among them at a moment’s notice. “Tell Colonel Herncastle,” she said, when I gave her her brother’s message, “that Miss Verinder is engaged, and that I decline to see him.” I tried to plead for a civiller answer than that; knowing the Colonel’s constitutional superiority to the restraints which govern gentlemen in general. I don’t ask for it now.” I went downstairs with the message, of which I took the liberty of presenting a new and amended edition of my own contriving, as follows: “My lady and Miss Rachel regret that they are engaged, Colonel; and beg to be excused having the honour of seeing you.” I expected him to break out, even at that polite way of putting it. To my surprise he did nothing of the sort; he alarmed me by taking the thing with an unnatural quiet. His eyes, of a glittering bright grey, just settled on me for a moment; and he laughed, not out of himself, like other people, but INTO himself, in a soft, chuckling, horridly mischievous way.

Six months afterwards--that is to say, six months before the time I am now writing of--there came a letter from a highly respectable clergyman to my lady. I have myself (in spite of the bishops and the clergy) an unfeigned respect for the Church; but I am firmly persuaded, at the same time, that the devil remained in undisturbed possession of the Honourable John, and that the last abominable act in the life of that abominable man was (saving your presence) to take the clergyman in! This was the sum-total of what I had to tell Mr. Also, that the story of the Colonel being sent away from his sister’s door, on the occasion of his niece’s birthday, seemed to strike Mr. Before, however, I tell you what discoveries I have made in London, and how I came to be mixed up in this matter of the Diamond, I want to know one thing. You look, my old friend, as if you didn’t quite understand the object to be answered by this consultation of ours.

Franklin, “suppose I put you up to my point of view, before we go any further.

I see three very serious questions involved in the Colonel’s birthday-gift to my cousin Rachel.

Question the second: Has the conspiracy followed the Colonel’s Diamond to England? Question the third: Did the Colonel know the conspiracy followed the Diamond; and has he purposely left a legacy of trouble and danger to his sister, through the innocent medium of his sister’s child? Don’t let me frighten you.” It was all very well to say that, but he HAD frightened me. There was our situation as revealed to me in Mr. Nobody ever heard the like of it, and, consequently, nobody can be expected to believe it. I shall go on with my story, however, in spite of that. When you get a sudden alarm, of the sort that I had got now, nine times out of ten the place you feel it in is your stomach. When you feel it in your stomach, your attention wanders, and you begin to fidget. Franklin noticed me, contending with a perturbed stomach or mind--which you please; they mean the same thing--and, checking himself just as he was starting with his part of the story, said to me sharply, “What do you want?” What did I want?

CHAPTER VI Keeping my private sentiments to myself, I respectfully requested Mr. Franklin to go on. Our young gentleman’s first words informed me that his discoveries, concerning the wicked Colonel and the Diamond, had begun with a visit which he had paid (before he came to us) to the family lawyer, at Hampstead. Franklin, when the two were alone, one day, after dinner, revealed that he had been charged by his father with a birthday present to be taken to Miss Rachel. One thing led to another; and it ended in the lawyer mentioning what the present really was, and how the friendly connexion between the late Colonel and Mr. The facts here are really so extraordinary, that I doubt if I can trust my own language to do justice to them.

I prefer trying to report Mr.

“You remember the time, Betteredge,” he said, “when my father was trying to prove his title to that unlucky Dukedom? My father discovered that his brother-in-law was in possession of certain papers which were likely to be of service to him in his lawsuit. He called on the Colonel, on pretence of welcoming him back to England. The Colonel was not to be deluded in that way.

‘You want something,’ he said, ‘or you would never have compromised your reputation by calling on ME.’ My father saw that the one chance for him was to show his hand; he admitted, at once, that he wanted the papers.

The Colonel asked for a day to consider his answer. The Colonel began by saying that he wanted something of my father, and that he begged to propose an exchange of friendly services between them. The fortune of war (that was the expression he used) had placed him in possession of one of the largest Diamonds in the world; and he had reason to believe that neither he nor his precious jewel was safe in any house, in any quarter of the globe, which they occupied together. Under these alarming circumstances, he had determined to place his Diamond in the keeping of another person. That person was not expected to run any risk. He might deposit the precious stone in any place especially guarded and set apart--like a banker’s or jeweller’s strong-room--for the safe custody of valuables of high price. His main personal responsibility in the matter was to be of the passive kind. He was to undertake either by himself, or by a trustworthy representative--to receive at a prearranged address, on certain prearranged days in every year, a note from the Colonel, simply stating the fact that he was a living man at that date.

In the event of the date passing over without the note being received, the Colonel’s silence might be taken as a sure token of the Colonel’s death by murder. In that case, and in no other, certain sealed instructions relating to the disposal of the Diamond, and deposited with it, were to be opened, and followed implicitly. If my father chose to accept this strange charge, the Colonel’s papers were at his disposal in return. He brought the invaluable faculty, called common sense, to bear on the Colonel’s letter. Somewhere in his Indian wanderings, the Colonel had picked up with some wretched crystal which he took for a diamond. As for the danger of his being murdered, and the precautions devised to preserve his life and his piece of crystal, this was the nineteenth century, and any man in his senses had only to apply to the police. The Colonel had been a notorious opium-eater for years past; and, if the only way of getting at the valuable papers he possessed was by accepting a matter of opium as a matter of fact, my father was quite willing to take the ridiculous responsibility imposed on him--all the more readily that it involved no trouble to himself. The Diamond and the sealed instructions went into his banker’s strong-room, and the Colonel’s letters, periodically reporting him a living man, were received and opened by our family lawyer, Mr. Nothing in this world, Betteredge, is probable unless it appeals to our own trumpery experience; and we only believe in a romance when we see it in a newspaper.” It was plain to me from this, that Mr. “Let’s finish the story of the Colonel first,” says Mr.

When we are not occupied in making machinery, we are (mentally speaking) the most slovenly people in the universe.” “So much,” I thought to myself, “for a foreign education! Franklin took up the lost thread, and went on. I have seen the letters, in a heap, all of them written in the same brief, business-like form of words: ‘Sir,--This is to certify that I am still a living man. John Herncastle.’ That was all he ever wrote, and that came regularly to the day; until some six or eight months since, when the form of the letter varied for the first time. Come to me, and help me to make my will.’ Mr.

He had dogs, cats, and birds to keep him company; but no human being near him, except the person who came daily to do the house-work, and the doctor at the bedside. The third bequeathed the Moonstone as a birthday present to his niece, on condition that my father would act as executor. My father at first refused to act. On second thoughts, however, he gave way, partly because he was assured that the executorship would involve him in no trouble; partly because Mr. Bruff suggested, in Rachel’s interest, that the Diamond might be worth something, after all.” “Did the Colonel give any reason, sir,” I inquired, “why he left the Diamond to Miss Rachel?” “He not only gave the reason--he had the reason written in his will,” said Mr.

It was formally necessary to have the Diamond valued, before the Will could be proved. Its size made it a phenomenon in the diamond market; its colour placed it in a category by itself; and, to add to these elements of uncertainty, there was a defect, in the shape of a flaw, in the very heart of the stone. Conceive my father’s astonishment! He had been within a hair’s-breadth of refusing to act as executor, and of allowing this magnificent jewel to be lost to the family. The interest he took in the matter now, induced him to open the sealed instructions which had been deposited with the Diamond.

Bruff showed this document to me, with the other papers; and it suggests (to my mind) a clue to the nature of the conspiracy which threatened the Colonel’s life.” “Then you do believe, sir,” I said, “that there was a conspiracy?” “Not possessing my father’s excellent common sense,” answered Mr. In the event of his death by violence (that is to say, in the absence of the regular letter from him at the appointed date), my father was then directed to send the Moonstone secretly to Amsterdam. It was to be deposited in that city with a famous diamond-cutter, and it was to be cut up into from four to six separate stones. The stones were then to be sold for what they would fetch, and the proceeds were to be applied to the founding of that professorship of experimental chemistry, which the Colonel has since endowed by his Will. Now, Betteredge, exert those sharp wits of yours, and observe the conclusion to which the Colonel’s instructions point!” I instantly exerted my wits. Franklin took them in hand, and pointed out what they ought to see. Franklin, “that the integrity of the Diamond, as a whole stone, is here artfully made dependent on the preservation from violence of the Colonel’s life.

He is not satisfied with saying to the enemies he dreads, ‘Kill me--and you will be no nearer to the Diamond than you are now; it is where you can’t get at it--in the guarded strong-room of a bank.’ He says instead, ‘Kill me--and the Diamond will be the Diamond no longer; its identity will be destroyed.’ What does that mean?” Here I had (as I thought) a flash of the wonderful foreign brightness. “It means lowering the value of the stone, and cheating the rogues in that way!” “Nothing of the sort,” says Mr. The flawed Diamond, cut up, would actually fetch more than the Diamond as it now is; for this plain reason--that from four to six perfect brilliants might be cut from it, which would be, collectively, worth more money than the large--but imperfect single stone. If robbery for the purpose of gain was at the bottom of the conspiracy, the Colonel’s instructions absolutely made the Diamond better worth stealing. Franklin--“a plot with some old Hindoo superstition at the bottom of it. That is my opinion, confirmed by a family paper which I have about me at this moment.” I saw, now, why the appearance of the three Indian jugglers at our house had presented itself to Mr. “I don’t want to force my opinion on you,” Mr. “The idea of certain chosen servants of an old Hindoo superstition devoting themselves, through all difficulties and dangers, to watching the opportunity of recovering their sacred gem, appears to me to be perfectly consistent with everything that we know of the patience of Oriental races, and the influence of Oriental religions.

But then I am an imaginative man; and the butcher, the baker, and the tax-gatherer, are not the only credible realities in existence to my mind. Let the guess I have made at the truth in this matter go for what it is worth, and let us get on to the only practical question that concerns us. Does the conspiracy against the Moonstone survive the Colonel’s death? And did the Colonel know it, when he left the birthday gift to his niece?” I began to see my lady and Miss Rachel at the end of it all, now. “I was not very willing, when I discovered the story of the Moonstone,” said Mr. Franklin, “to be the means of bringing it here. Bruff reminded me that somebody must put my cousin’s legacy into my cousin’s hands--and that I might as well do it as anybody else.

I went to my father’s house to pick up my luggage, and found a letter there, which unexpectedly detained me in London. I went back to the bank with the Diamond, and thought I saw the shabby man again. I find that three strolling Indians have been at the house, and that my arrival from London, and something which I am expected to have about me, are two special objects of investigation to them when they believe themselves to be alone. I don’t waste time and words on their pouring the ink into the boy’s hand, and telling him to look in it for a man at a distance, and for something in that man’s pocket. The present question for us to decide is, whether I am wrongly attaching a meaning to a mere accident? or whether we really have evidence of the Indians being on the track of the Moonstone, the moment it is removed from the safe keeping of the bank?” Neither he nor I seemed to fancy dealing with this part of the inquiry. “I was thinking, sir,” I answered, “that I should like to shy the Diamond into the quicksand, and settle the question in THAT way.” “If you have got the value of the stone in your pocket,” answered Mr. Franklin, “say so, Betteredge, and in it goes!” It’s curious to note, when your mind’s anxious, how very far in the way of relief a very small joke will go. Blake, as executor, into dreadful trouble--though where the merriment was, I am quite at a loss to discover now.

Franklin was the first to bring the talk back to the talk’s proper purpose. He took an envelope out of his pocket, opened it, and handed to me the paper inside. “Betteredge,” he said, “we must face the question of the Colonel’s motive in leaving this legacy to his niece, for my aunt’s sake. Bear in mind how Lady Verinder treated her brother from the time when he returned to England, to the time when he told you he should remember his niece’s birthday. I have got it by me while I write these words; and I copy it, as follows, for your benefit: “Thirdly, and lastly, I give and bequeath to my niece, Rachel Verinder, daughter and only child of my sister, Julia Verinder, widow--if her mother, the said Julia Verinder, shall be living on the said Rachel Verinder’s next Birthday after my death--the yellow Diamond belonging to me, and known in the East by the name of The Moonstone: subject to this condition, that her mother, the said Julia Verinder, shall be living at the time. And I hereby desire my executor to give my Diamond, either by his own hands or by the hands of some trustworthy representative whom he shall appoint, into the personal possession of my said niece Rachel, on her next birthday after my death, and in the presence, if possible, of my sister, the said Julia Verinder. And I desire that my said sister may be informed, by means of a true copy of this, the third and last clause of my Will, that I give the Diamond to her daughter Rachel, in token of my free forgiveness of the injury which her conduct towards me has been the means of inflicting on my reputation in my lifetime; and especially in proof that I pardon, as becomes a dying man, the insult offered to me as an officer and a gentleman, when her servant, by her orders, closed the door of her house against me, on the occasion of her daughter’s birthday.” More words followed these, providing if my lady was dead, or if Miss Rachel was dead, at the time of the testator’s decease, for the Diamond being sent to Holland, in accordance with the sealed instructions originally deposited with it. The proceeds of the sale were, in that case, to be added to the money already left by the Will for the professorship of chemistry at the university in the north.

I handed the paper back to Mr. Franklin, sorely troubled what to say to him. Up to that moment, my own opinion had been (as you know) that the Colonel had died as wickedly as he had lived. In bringing the Moonstone to my aunt’s house, am I serving his vengeance blindfold, or am I vindicating him in the character of a penitent and Christian man?” “It seems hard to say, sir,” I answered, “that he died with a horrid revenge in his heart, and a horrid lie on his lips. Franklin sat twisting and turning the extract from the Will in his fingers, as if he expected to squeeze the truth out of it in that manner. Which are we to take?” He had had a German education as well as a French.

One of the two had been in undisturbed possession of him (as I supposed) up to this time. It is one of my rules in life, never to notice what I don’t understand. “Why did my uncle leave the Diamond to Rachel? Why didn’t he leave it to my aunt?” “That’s not beyond guessing, sir, at any rate,” I said.

“Colonel Herncastle knew my lady well enough to know that she would have refused to accept any legacy that came to her from HIM.” “How did he know that Rachel might not refuse to accept it, too?” “Is there any young lady in existence, sir, who could resist the temptation of accepting such a birthday present as The Moonstone?” “That’s the Subjective view,” says Mr. “It does you great credit, Betteredge, to be able to take the Subjective view. How are we to explain his only giving Rachel her birthday present conditionally on her mother being alive?” “I don’t want to slander a dead man, sir,” I answered. “But if he HAS purposely left a legacy of trouble and danger to his sister, by the means of her child, it must be a legacy made conditional on his sister’s being alive to feel the vexation of it.” “Oh! Franklin, “that the Colonel’s object may, quite possibly, have been--not to benefit his niece, whom he had never even seen--but to prove to his sister that he had died forgiving her, and to prove it very prettily by means of a present made to her child. There is a totally different explanation from yours, Betteredge, taking its rise in a Subjective-Objective point of view.

From all I can see, one interpretation is just as likely to be right as the other.” Having brought matters to this pleasant and comforting issue, Mr. Franklin appeared to think that he had completed all that was required of him. He laid down flat on his back on the sand, and asked what was to be done next. He had been so clever, and clear-headed (before he began to talk the foreign gibberish), and had so completely taken the lead in the business up to the present time, that I was quite unprepared for such a sudden change as he now exhibited in this helpless leaning upon me. It was not till later that I learned--by assistance of Miss Rachel, who was the first to make the discovery--that these puzzling shifts and transformations in Mr.

Franklin were due to the effect on him of his foreign training. At the age when we are all of us most apt to take our colouring, in the form of a reflection from the colouring of other people, he had been sent abroad, and had been passed on from one nation to another, before there was time for any one colouring more than another to settle itself on him firmly. As a consequence of this, he had come back with so many different sides to his character, all more or less jarring with each other, that he seemed to pass his life in a state of perpetual contradiction with himself. He could be a busy man, and a lazy man; cloudy in the head, and clear in the head; a model of determination, and a spectacle of helplessness, all together. He had his French side, and his German side, and his Italian side--the original English foundation showing through, every now and then, as much as to say, “Here I am, sorely transmogrified, as you see, but there’s something of me left at the bottom of him still.” Miss Rachel used to remark that the Italian side of him was uppermost, on those occasions when he unexpectedly gave in, and asked you in his nice sweet-tempered way to take his own responsibilities on your shoulders. “Isn’t it your business, sir,” I asked, “to know what to do next?

Franklin didn’t appear to see the force of my question--not being in a position, at the time, to see anything but the sky over his head. “I don’t want to alarm my aunt without reason,” he said. “And I don’t want to leave her without what may be a needful warning.

If you were in my place, Betteredge, tell me, in one word, what would you do?” In one word, I told him: “Wait.” “With all my heart,” says Mr. “How long?” I proceeded to explain myself. “As I understand it, sir,” I said, “somebody is bound to put this plaguy Diamond into Miss Rachel’s hands on her birthday--and you may as well do it as another. “But between this and the birthday, what’s to be done with the Diamond?” “What your father did with it, to be sure, sir!” I answered. You put in the safe keeping of the bank at Frizinghall.” (Frizinghall was our nearest town, and the Bank of England wasn’t safer than the bank there.) “If I were you, sir,” I added, “I would ride straight away with it to Frizinghall before the ladies come back.” The prospect of doing something--and, what is more, of doing that something on a horse--brought Mr. He sprang to his feet, and pulled me up, without ceremony, on to mine. We went back to the house in a hurry; we had the fleetest horse in the stables saddled in a hurry; and Mr.

Franklin rattled off in a hurry, to lodge the cursed Diamond once more in the strong-room of a bank. When I heard the last of his horse’s hoofs on the drive, and when I turned about in the yard and found I was alone again, I felt half inclined to ask myself if I hadn’t woke up from a dream. CHAPTER VII While I was in this bewildered frame of mind, sorely needing a little quiet time by myself to put me right again, my daughter Penelope got in my way (just as her late mother used to get in my way on the stairs), and instantly summoned me to tell her all that had passed at the conference between Mr. Under present circumstances, the one thing to be done was to clap the extinguisher upon Penelope’s curiosity on the spot. Needless to say how astonished they were, when they heard that Mr. Needless also to say, that THEY asked awkward questions directly, and that the “foreign politics” and the “falling asleep in the sun” wouldn’t serve a second time over with THEM. Franklin’s arrival by the early train was entirely attributable to one of Mr. Having got over my difficulties with the ladies, I found more difficulties waiting for me when I went back to my own room. In came Penelope--with the natural sweetness of women--to kiss and make it up again; and--with the natural curiosity of women--to ask another question.

This time she only wanted me to tell her what was the matter with our second housemaid, Rosanna Spearman. Franklin and me at the Shivering Sand, Rosanna, it appeared, had returned to the house in a very unaccountable state of mind. She had turned (if Penelope was to be believed) all the colours of the rainbow. Franklin Blake, and in another breath she had been angry with Penelope for presuming to suppose that a strange gentleman could possess any interest for her. Franklin known anything of each other before to-day? I could speak to Mr.

Franklin’s astonishment as genuine, when he saw how the girl stared at him. Penelope could speak to the girl’s inquisitiveness as genuine, when she asked questions about Mr. But a housemaid out of a reformatory, with a plain face and a deformed shoulder, falling in love, at first sight, with a gentleman who comes on a visit to her mistress’s house, match me that, in the way of an absurdity, out of any story-book in Christendom, if you can! I am sorry I drifted into writing about it; and not without reason, as you will see when we have gone on together a little longer. I took his hot water up to his room myself, expecting to hear, after this extraordinary delay, that something had happened. To my great disappointment (and no doubt to yours also), nothing had happened.

He had deposited the Moonstone in the bank--describing it merely as a valuable of great price--and he had got the receipt for it safe in his pocket. I would have given something to have waited at table that day. But, in my position in the household, waiting at dinner (except on high family festivals) was letting down my dignity in the eyes of the other servants--a thing which my lady considered me quite prone enough to do already, without seeking occasions for it. The news brought to me from the upper regions, that evening, came from Penelope and the footman. Penelope mentioned that she had never known Miss Rachel so particular about the dressing of her hair, and had never seen her look so bright and pretty as she did when she went down to meet Mr. Franklin Blake at dinner, were two of the hardest things to reconcile with each other that had ever tried his training in service. Franklin piping high, Miss Rachel piping higher, and my lady, on the piano, following them as it were over hedge and ditch, and seeing them safe through it in a manner most wonderful and pleasant to hear through the open windows, on the terrace at night. Later still, I went to Mr.

“She’s the most charming girl I have seen since I came back to England!” was all I could extract from him, when I endeavoured to lead the conversation to more serious things. Towards midnight, I went round the house to lock up, accompanied by my second in command (Samuel, the footman), as usual. When all the doors were made fast, except the side door that opened on the terrace, I sent Samuel to bed, and stepped out for a breath of fresh air before I too went to bed in my turn. It was so silent out of doors, that I heard from time to time, very faint and low, the fall of the sea, as the ground-swell heaved it in on the sand-bank near the mouth of our little bay. As the house stood, the terrace side was the dark side; but the broad moonlight showed fair on the gravel walk that ran along the next side to the terrace. Being old and sly, I forbore to call out; but being also, unfortunately, old and heavy, my feet betrayed me on the gravel. By the time I had got to the corner, the trespassers, whoever they were, had run into the shrubbery at the off side of the walk, and were hidden from sight among the thick trees and bushes in that part of the grounds. From the shrubbery, they could easily make their way, over our fence into the road. As it was, I went back to set a-going a younger pair of legs than mine. I said nothing to Samuel.

But, remembering what Penelope had told me about the jugglers, and the pouring of the little pool of ink into the palm of the boy’s hand, I instantly suspected that I had disturbed the three Indians, lurking about the house, and bent, in their heathenish way, on discovering the whereabouts of the Diamond that night. CHAPTER VIII Here, for one moment, I find it necessary to call a halt. On summoning up my own recollections--and on getting Penelope to help me, by consulting her journal--I find that we may pass pretty rapidly over the interval between Mr. With your good leave, then, and with Penelope’s help, I shall notice certain dates only in this place; reserving to myself to tell the story day by day, once more, as soon as we get to the time when the business of the Moonstone became the chief business of everybody in our house.

Franklin this article of jugglery, and told him what I have already told you. His opinion was, not only that the Indians had been lurking about after the Diamond, but also that they were actually foolish enough to believe in their own magic--meaning thereby the making of signs on a boy’s head, and the pouring of ink into a boy’s hand, and then expecting him to see persons and things beyond the reach of human vision. Franklin, “the Indians took it for granted that we should keep the Diamond here; and they brought their clairvoyant boy to show them the way to it, if they succeeded in getting into the house last night.” “Do you think they’ll try again, sir?” I asked.

If he can’t, we shall have another chance of catching them in the shrubbery, before many more nights are over our heads.” I waited pretty confidently for that latter chance; but, strange to relate, it never came. Whether the jugglers heard, in the town, of Mr. The jugglers remained in and about the town plying their trade; and Mr. Franklin and I remained waiting to see what might happen, and resolute not to put the rogues on their guard by showing our suspicions of them too soon. With this report of the proceedings on either side, ends all that I have to say about the Indians for the present. Franklin hit on a new method of working their way together through the time which might otherwise have hung heavy on their hands. You will find it has a bearing on something that is still to come. Their lives being, for the most part, passed in looking about them for something to do, it is curious to see--especially when their tastes are of what is called the intellectual sort--how often they drift blindfold into some nasty pursuit. Nine times out of ten they take to torturing something, or to spoiling something--and they firmly believe they are improving their minds, when the plain truth is, they are only making a mess in the house. I have seen them (ladies, I am sorry to say, as well as gentlemen) go out, day after day, for example, with empty pill-boxes, and catch newts, and beetles, and spiders, and frogs, and come home and stick pins through the miserable wretches, or cut them up, without a pang of remorse, into little pieces.

You see my young master, or my young mistress, poring over one of their spiders’ insides with a magnifying-glass; or you meet one of their frogs walking downstairs without his head--and when you wonder what this cruel nastiness means, you are told that it means a taste in my young master or my young mistress for natural history. Sometimes, again, you see them occupied for hours together in spoiling a pretty flower with pointed instruments, out of a stupid curiosity to know what the flower is made of. In the one case and in the other, the secret of it is, that you have got nothing to think of in your poor empty head, and nothing to do with your poor idle hands. And so it ends in your spoiling canvas with paints, and making a smell in the house; or in keeping tadpoles in a glass box full of dirty water, and turning everybody’s stomach in the house; or in chipping off bits of stone here, there, and everywhere, and dropping grit into all the victuals in the house; or in staining your fingers in the pursuit of photography, and doing justice without mercy on everybody’s face in the house.

It often falls heavy enough, no doubt, on people who are really obliged to get their living, to be forced to work for the clothes that cover them, the roof that shelters them, and the food that keeps them going.

But compare the hardest day’s work you ever did with the idleness that splits flowers and pokes its way into spiders’ stomachs, and thank your stars that your head has got something it MUST think of, and your hands something that they MUST do. Franklin and Miss Rachel, they tortured nothing, I am glad to say. They simply confined themselves to making a mess; and all they spoilt, to do them justice, was the panelling of a door. Franklin’s universal genius, dabbling in everything, dabbled in what he called “decorative painting.” He had invented, he informed us, a new mixture to moisten paint with, which he described as a “vehicle.” What it was made of, I don’t know. Miss Rachel being wild to try her hand at the new process, Mr. Franklin sent to London for the materials; mixed them up, with accompaniment of a smell which made the very dogs sneeze when they came into the room; put an apron and a bib over Miss Rachel’s gown, and set her to work decorating her own little sitting-room--called, for want of English to name it in, her “boudoir.” They began with the inside of the door.

Franklin scraped off all the nice varnish with pumice-stone, and made what he described as a surface to work on. Miss Rachel then covered the surface, under his directions and with his help, with patterns and devices--griffins, birds, flowers, cupids, and such like--copied from designs made by a famous Italian painter, whose name escapes me: the one, I mean, who stocked the world with Virgin Maries, and had a sweetheart at the baker’s. Viewed as work, this decoration was slow to do, and dirty to deal with. But our young lady and gentleman never seemed to tire of it. When they were not riding, or seeing company, or taking their meals, or piping their songs, there they were with their heads together, as busy as bees, spoiling the door.

Who was the poet who said that Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do? On that evening we, in the servants’ hall, debated a domestic question for the first time, which, like the decoration of the door, has its bearing on something that is still to come. Franklin and Miss Rachel took in each other’s society, and noting what a pretty match they were in all personal respects, we naturally speculated on the chance of their putting their heads together with other objects in view besides the ornamenting of a door. The difficulty was to fathom Miss Rachel. Let me do myself the honour of making you acquainted with her; after which, I will leave you to fathom for yourself--if you can.

If you happen to like dark women (who, I am informed, have gone out of fashion latterly in the gay world), and if you have no particular prejudice in favour of size, I answer for Miss Rachel as one of the prettiest girls your eyes ever looked on. She was small and slim, but all in fine proportion from top to toe. To see her sit down, to see her get up, and specially to see her walk, was enough to satisfy any man in his senses that the graces of her figure (if you will pardon me the expression) were in her flesh and not in her clothes. Her mouth and chin were (to quote Mr. Franklin) morsels for the gods; and her complexion (on the same undeniable authority) was as warm as the sun itself, with this great advantage over the sun, that it was always in nice order to look at. Add to the foregoing that she carried her head as upright as a dart, in a dashing, spirited, thoroughbred way--that she had a clear voice, with a ring of the right metal in it, and a smile that began very prettily in her eyes before it got to her lips--and there behold the portrait of her, to the best of my painting, as large as life! To put it seriously, my dear pretty Miss Rachel, possessing a host of graces and attractions, had one defect, which strict impartiality compels me to acknowledge.

She was unlike most other girls of her age, in this--that she had ideas of her own, and was stiff-necked enough to set the fashions themselves at defiance, if the fashions didn’t suit her views. In trifles, this independence of hers was all well enough; but in matters of importance, it carried her (as my lady thought, and as I thought) too far.

She judged for herself, as few women of twice her age judge in general; never asked your advice; never told you beforehand what she was going to do; never came with secrets and confidences to anybody, from her mother downwards. Over and over again I have heard my lady say, “Rachel’s best friend and Rachel’s worst enemy are, one and the other--Rachel herself.” Add one thing more to this, and I have done. I can call to mind, in her childhood, more than one occasion when the good little soul took the blame, and suffered the punishment, for some fault committed by a playfellow whom she loved. Nobody ever knew her to confess to it, when the thing was found out, and she was charged with it afterwards. But nobody ever knew her to lie about it, either.

She looked you straight in the face, and shook her little saucy head, and said plainly, “I won’t tell you!” Punished again for this, she would own to being sorry for saying “won’t;” but, bread and water notwithstanding, she never told you.

I have now brought you acquainted with Miss Rachel, which you will find puts us face to face, next, with the question of that young lady’s matrimonial views. On June the twelfth, an invitation from my mistress was sent to a gentleman in London, to come and help to keep Miss Rachel’s birthday. This was the fortunate individual on whom I believed her heart to be privately set! My lady’s second sister (don’t be alarmed; we are not going very deep into family matters this time)--my lady’s second sister, I say, had a disappointment in love; and taking a husband afterwards, on the neck or nothing principle, made what they call a misalliance. But he had presumed to raise himself from a low station in the world--and that was against him. Franklin’s chance of topping Mr. He stood over six feet high; he had a beautiful red and white colour; a smooth round face, shaved as bare as your hand; and a head of lovely long flaxen hair, falling negligently over the poll of his neck.

But why do I try to give you this personal description of him? If you ever subscribed to a Ladies’ Charity in London, you know Mr. Maternal societies for confining poor women; Magdalen societies for rescuing poor women; strong-minded societies for putting poor women into poor men’s places, and leaving the men to shift for themselves;--he was vice-president, manager, referee to them all. Godfrey at the bottom of the board, keeping the temper of the committee, and leading the dear creatures along the thorny ways of business, hat in hand. As a speaker at charitable meetings the like of him for drawing your tears and your money was not easy to find. She sent me to the theatre to see a dancing woman who was all the rage; and she sent me to Exeter Hall to hear Mr. Ditto at the performance with the tongue. And with all this, the sweetest tempered person (I allude to Mr. Godfrey)--the simplest and pleasantest and easiest to please--you ever met with. He accepted my mistress’s invitation, from the Wednesday of the birthday to the evening of Friday--when his duties to the Ladies’ Charities would oblige him to return to town.

He slept so badly, after this effort of self-denial, for want of the composing effect of the tobacco to which he was used, and came down morning after morning looking so haggard and worn, that Miss Rachel herself begged him to take to his cigars again. he would take to nothing again that could cause her a moment’s annoyance; he would fight it out resolutely, and get back his sleep, sooner or later, by main force of patience in waiting for it. Such devotion as this, you may say (as some of them said downstairs), could never fail of producing the right effect on Miss Rachel--backed up, too, as it was, by the decorating work every day on the door. All very well--but she had a photograph of Mr. What do you say to that? Every morning--as Penelope herself owned to me--there was the man whom the women couldn’t do without, looking on, in effigy, while Miss Rachel was having her hair combed. Franklin’s chance look, to my mind, a worse chance than ever. A strange gentleman, speaking English with a foreign accent, came that morning to the house, and asked to see Mr.

Franklin told me nothing about it; secondly, that he communicated it (when the gentleman had gone, as I suppose) to my lady. She probably hinted something about it next to her daughter. At any rate, Miss Rachel was reported to have said some severe things to Mr. The next day, for the first time, nothing was done towards the decoration of the door. Franklin’s on the Continent--with a woman or a debt at the bottom of it--had followed him to England.

Franklin, but my lady too, for a wonder, left me in the dark. On the seventeenth, to all appearance, the cloud passed away again. They returned to their decorating work on the door, and seemed to be as good friends as ever. If Penelope was to be believed, Mr. Franklin had seized the opportunity of the reconciliation to make an offer to Miss Rachel, and had neither been accepted nor refused. My girl was sure (from signs and tokens which I need not trouble you with) that her young mistress had fought Mr. Franklin off by declining to believe that he was in earnest, and had then secretly regretted treating him in that way afterwards.

Though Penelope was admitted to more familiarity with her young mistress than maids generally are--for the two had been almost brought up together as children--still I knew Miss Rachel’s reserved character too well to believe that she would show her mind to anybody in this way. What my daughter told me, on the present occasion, was, as I suspected, more what she wished than what she really knew. We had the doctor in the house professionally. He was summoned to prescribe for a person whom I have had occasion to present to you in these pages--our second housemaid, Rosanna Spearman. Franklin (which my daughter, by my orders, kept strictly secret) seemed to be just as absurd as ever. But I must own that what I myself saw, and what my daughter saw also, of our second housemaid’s conduct, began to look mysterious, to say the least of it. He took about as much notice of her as he took of the cat; it never seemed to occur to him to waste a look on Rosanna’s plain face.

Franklin’s dressing-table, secretly removing a rose which Miss Rachel had given him to wear in his button-hole, and putting another rose like it, of her own picking, in its place. She was, after that, once or twice impudent to me, when I gave her a well-meant general hint to be careful in her conduct; and, worse still, she was not over-respectful now, on the few occasions when Miss Rachel accidentally spoke to her. I tried to screen the girl by answering that I thought she was out of health; and it ended in the doctor being sent for, as already mentioned, on the nineteenth.

My lady offered to remove her for change of air to one of our farms, inland. She begged and prayed, with the tears in her eyes, to be let to stop; and, in an evil hour, I advised my lady to try her for a little longer.

If I could only have looked a little way into the future, I would have taken Rosanna Spearman out of the house, then and there, with my own hand. He had arranged to stop at Frizinghall that night, having occasion to consult his father on business. On the afternoon of the next day, he and his two eldest sisters would ride over to us on horseback, in good time before dinner. An elegant little casket in China accompanied the note, presented to Miss Rachel, with her cousin’s love and best wishes. My daughter Penelope, nevertheless--such is the obstinacy of women--still backed him to win. Thanks be to Heaven, we have arrived at the eve of the birthday at last! I’ll ease you with another new chapter here--and, what is more, that chapter shall take you straight into the thick of the story. CHAPTER IX June twenty-first, the day of the birthday, was cloudy and unsettled at sunrise, but towards noon it cleared up bravely. We, in the servants’ hall, began this happy anniversary, as usual, by offering our little presents to Miss Rachel, with the regular speech delivered annually by me as the chief. When it is delivered, and turns out not to be the novelty anticipated, though they grumble a little, they look forward hopefully to something newer next year.

An easy people to govern, in the Parliament and in the Kitchen--that’s the moral of it. Franklin and I had a private conference on the subject of the Moonstone--the time having now come for removing it from the bank at Frizinghall, and placing it in Miss Rachel’s own hands. Whether he had been trying to make love to his cousin again, and had got a rebuff--or whether his broken rest, night after night, was aggravating the queer contradictions and uncertainties in his character--I don’t know. Franklin failed to show himself at his best on the morning of the birthday. Nothing had happened to justify us in alarming my lady on the subject of the jewel; and nothing could alter the legal obligation that now lay on Mr. Franklin to put it in his cousin’s possession. That was my view of the matter; and, twist and turn it as he might, he was forced in the end to make it his view too. We arranged that he was to ride over, after lunch, to Frizinghall, and bring the Diamond back, with Mr.

Godfrey and the two young ladies, in all probability, to keep him company on the way home again. This settled, our young gentleman went back to Miss Rachel. They consumed the whole morning, and part of the afternoon, in the everlasting business of decorating the door, Penelope standing by to mix the colours, as directed; and my lady, as luncheon time drew near, going in and out of the room, with her handkerchief to her nose (for they used a deal of Mr. Franklin’s vehicle that day), and trying vainly to get the two artists away from their work. It was three o’clock before they took off their aprons, and released Penelope (much the worse for the vehicle), and cleaned themselves of their mess. The griffins, cupids, and so on, were, I must own, most beautiful to behold; though so many in number, so entangled in flowers and devices, and so topsy-turvy in their actions and attitudes, that you felt them unpleasantly in your head for hours after you had done with the pleasure of looking at them.

If I add that Penelope ended her part of the morning’s work by being sick in the back-kitchen, it is in no unfriendly spirit towards the vehicle. Franklin snatched a morsel from the luncheon-table, and rode off to Frizinghall--to escort his cousins, as he told my lady. To fetch the Moonstone, as was privately known to himself and to me. This being one of the high festivals on which I took my place at the side-board, in command of the attendance at table, I had plenty to occupy my mind while Mr. Having seen to the wine, and reviewed my men and women who were to wait at dinner, I retired to collect myself before the company came. A whiff of--you know what, and a turn at a certain book which I have had occasion to mention in these pages, composed me, body and mind.

I was aroused from what I am inclined to think must have been, not a nap, but a reverie, by the clatter of horses’ hoofs outside; and, going to the door, received a cavalcade comprising Mr.

Franklin in this respect--that he did not seem to be in his customary spirits. He kindly shook hands with me as usual, and was most politely glad to see his old friend Betteredge wearing so well. But there was a sort of cloud over him, which I couldn’t at all account for; and when I asked how he had found his father in health, he answered rather shortly, “Much as usual.” However, the two Miss Ablewhites were cheerful enough for twenty, which more than restored the balance.

They were nearly as big as their brother; spanking, yellow-haired, rosy lasses, overflowing with super-abundant flesh and blood; bursting from head to foot with health and spirits. The legs of the poor horses trembled with carrying them; and when they jumped from their saddles (without waiting to be helped), I declare they bounced on the ground as if they were made of india-rubber. Under cover of the noise made by the young ladies, I had an opportunity of saying a private word to Mr. The bell rang, before he had been a minute in the room, and Penelope was sent to tell Miss Rachel that Mr. Franklin Blake wanted to speak to her.

Crossing the hall, about half an hour afterwards, I was brought to a sudden standstill by an outbreak of screams from the small drawing-room. However, I went in (on pretence of asking for instructions about the dinner) to discover whether anything serious had really happened. There stood Miss Rachel at the table, like a person fascinated, with the Colonel’s unlucky Diamond in her hand. There, at the opposite side of the table, stood Mr. Franklin in a chair by the book-case, tugging at his beard, and looking anxiously towards the window. And there, at the window, stood the object he was contemplating--my lady, having the extract from the Colonel’s Will in her hand, and keeping her back turned on the whole of the company. “Come to my room in half an hour,” she answered.

“I shall have something to say to you then.” With those words she went out. Was the legacy of the Moonstone a proof that she had treated her brother with cruel injustice? Serious questions those for my lady to determine, while her daughter, innocent of all knowledge of the Colonel’s character, stood there with the Colonel’s birthday gift in her hand. Before I could leave the room in my turn, Miss Rachel, always considerate to the old servant who had been in the house when she was born, stopped me. When you looked down into the stone, you looked into a yellow deep that drew your eyes into it so that they saw nothing else. mere carbon, my good friend, after all!” His object, I suppose, was to instruct me. All he did, however, was to remind me of the dinner. I hobbled off to my army of waiters downstairs.

Something like a stock of love to draw on THERE! Franklin and me at the Shivering Sand--with this difference, that I took care to keep my own counsel about the jugglers, seeing that nothing had happened to justify me in alarming my lady on this head.

When I received my dismissal, I could see that she took the blackest view possible of the Colonel’s motives, and that she was bent on getting the Moonstone out of her daughter’s possession at the first opportunity. On my way back to my own part of the house, I was encountered by Mr. He wanted to know if I had seen anything of his cousin Rachel. I didn’t know; but I began to suspect that cousin Godfrey might not be far away from cousin Rachel. Franklin’s suspicions apparently took the same turn. I was interrupted no more in the business of preparing for the birthday dinner till it was time for me to smarten myself up for receiving the company.

Just as I had got my white waistcoat on, Penelope presented herself at my toilet, on pretence of brushing what little hair I have got left, and improving the tie of my white cravat. My girl was in high spirits, and I saw she had something to say to me.

She gave me a kiss on the top of my bald head, and whispered, “News for you, father! I hate him for trying to supplant Mr. But my daughter happened to be improving the tie of my cravat at that moment, and the whole strength of her feelings found its way into her fingers. “I saw him take her away alone into the rose-garden,” says Penelope. “And I waited behind the holly to see how they came back.

But my daughter had got the hair-brush by this time, and the whole strength of her feelings had passed into THAT. Godfrey came to a standstill. ‘You prefer,’ says he, ‘that I should stop here as if nothing had happened?’ Miss Rachel turned on him like lightning. ‘You have accepted my mother’s invitation,’ she said; ‘and you are here to meet her guests. Unless you wish to make a scandal in the house, you will remain, of course!’ She went on a few steps, and then seemed to relent a little. ‘Awkward!’ he said between his teeth, when he looked up, and went on to the house--‘very awkward!’ If that was his opinion of himself, he was quite right.

And the end of it is, father, what I told you all along,” cries Penelope, finishing me off with a last scarification, the hottest of all. Franklin’s the man!” I got possession of the hair-brush, and opened my lips to administer the reproof which, you will own, my daughter’s language and conduct richly deserved. Before I could say a word, the crash of carriage-wheels outside struck in, and stopped me. I got into the hall just in time to announce the two first of the guests. CHAPTER X One on the top of the other the rest of the company followed the Ablewhites, till we had the whole tale of them complete. It was a noble sight to see, when they were settled in their places round the dinner-table, and the Rector of Frizinghall (with beautiful elocution) rose and said grace.

There is no need to worry you with a list of the guests. You will meet none of them a second time--in my part of the story, at any rate--with the exception of two. On this occasion she was more particularly the centre-point towards which everybody’s eyes were directed; for (to my lady’s secret annoyance) she wore her wonderful birthday present, which eclipsed all the rest--the Moonstone. Franklin, had contrived, with the help of his neat fingers and a little bit of silver wire, to fix it as a brooch in the bosom of her white dress. Candy, our doctor at Frizinghall. This was a pleasant, companionable little man, with the drawback, however, I must own, of being too fond, in season and out of season, of his joke, and of his plunging in rather a headlong manner into talk with strangers, without waiting to feel his way first.

In society he was constantly making mistakes, and setting people unintentionally by the ears together. In his medical practice he was a more prudent man; picking up his discretion (as his enemies said) by a kind of instinct, and proving to be generally right where more carefully conducted doctors turned out to be wrong.

What HE said about the Diamond to Miss Rachel was said, as usual, by way of a mystification or joke. He gravely entreated her (in the interests of science) to let him take it home and burn it. “We will first heat it, Miss Rachel,” says the doctor, “to such and such a degree; then we will expose it to a current of air; and, little by little--puff!--we evaporate the Diamond, and spare you a world of anxiety about the safe keeping of a valuable precious stone!” My lady, listening with rather a careworn expression on her face, seemed to wish that the doctor had been in earnest, and that he could have found Miss Rachel zealous enough in the cause of science to sacrifice her birthday gift. It was rumoured that he was tired of the humdrum life among the people in our parts, and longing to go back and wander off on the tramp again in the wild places of the East. Except what he said to Miss Rachel about her jewel, I doubt if he spoke six words or drank so much as a single glass of wine, all through the dinner. The Moonstone was the only object that interested him in the smallest degree. The fame of it seemed to have reached him, in some of those perilous Indian places where his wanderings had lain. After looking at it silently for so long a time that Miss Rachel began to get confused, he said to her in his cool immovable way, “If you ever go to India, Miss Verinder, don’t take your uncle’s birthday gift with you. I know a certain city, and a certain temple in that city, where, dressed as you are now, your life would not be worth five minutes’ purchase.” Miss Rachel, safe in England, was quite delighted to hear of her danger in India. The Bouncers were more delighted still; they dropped their knives and forks with a crash, and burst out together vehemently, “O!

Looking back at the birthday now, by the light of what happened afterwards, I am half inclined to think that the cursed Diamond must have cast a blight on the whole company.

I plied them well with wine; and being a privileged character, followed the unpopular dishes round the table, and whispered to the company confidentially, “Please to change your mind and try it; for I know it will do you good.” Nine times out of ten they changed their minds--out of regard for their old original Betteredge, they were pleased to say--but all to no purpose. When they did use their tongues again, they used them innocently, in the most unfortunate manner and to the worst possible purpose. Candy, the doctor, for instance, said more unlucky things than I ever knew him to say before. Take one sample of the way in which he went on, and you will understand what I had to put up with at the sideboard, officiating as I was in the character of a man who had the prosperity of the festival at heart. Talking of her deceased husband perpetually, this good lady never mentioned to strangers that he WAS deceased. She thought, I suppose, that every able-bodied adult in England ought to know as much as that. In one of the gaps of silence, somebody mentioned the dry and rather nasty subject of human anatomy; whereupon good Mrs. Anatomy she described as the Professor’s favourite recreation in his leisure hours.

Being the most polite of men, he seized the opportunity of assisting the Professor’s anatomical amusements on the spot. “They have got some remarkably fine skeletons lately at the College of Surgeons,” says Mr.

“I strongly recommend the Professor, ma’am, when he next has an hour to spare, to pay them a visit.” You might have heard a pin fall. The company (out of respect to the Professor’s memory) all sat speechless. Threadgall dropped her head right into her tucker, and, in a lower voice still, repeated the solemn words, “My beloved husband is no more.” I winked hard at Mr. Miss Rachel touched his arm. On he went, with a cordiality that there was no stopping anyhow.

“I shall be delighted,” says he, “to send the Professor my card, if you will oblige me by mentioning his present address.” “His present address, sir, is THE GRAVE,” says Mrs. The rest of them were nearly as provoking in their different ways as the doctor himself. When they ought to have spoken, they didn’t speak; or when they did speak they were perpetually at cross purposes. Godfrey, though so eloquent in public, declined to exert himself in private. He kept all his talk for the private ear of the lady (a member of our family) who sat next to him. Being close behind these two at the sideboard, I can testify, from what I heard pass between them, that the company lost a good deal of very improving conversation, which I caught up while drawing the corks, and carving the mutton, and so forth. When I had time to listen to them, they had got a long way beyond their women to be confined, and their women to be rescued, and were disputing on serious subjects. Godfrey to say, between the corks and the carving) meant love. And heaven was earth, done up again to look like new.

Earth had some very objectionable people in it; but, to make amends for that, all the women in heaven would be members of a prodigious committee that never quarrelled, with all the men in attendance on them as ministering angels. Godfrey keep it all to his lady and himself? Franklin stirred the company up into making a pleasant evening of it? But, talk as he might, nine times out of ten he pitched on the wrong subject, or he addressed himself to the wrong person; the end of it being that he offended some, and puzzled all of them. That foreign training of his--those French and German and Italian sides of him, to which I have already alluded--came out, at my lady’s hospitable board, in a most bewildering manner. What do you think, for instance, of his discussing the lengths to which a married woman might let her admiration go for a man who was not her husband, and putting it in his clear-headed witty French way to the maiden aunt of the Vicar of Frizinghall? What do you think, when he shifted to the German side, of his telling the lord of the manor, while that great authority on cattle was quoting his experience in the breeding of bulls, that experience, properly understood counted for nothing, and that the proper way to breed bulls was to look deep into your own mind, evolve out of it the idea of a perfect bull, and produce him? Blake, I beg to ask you, what have we got left?”--what do you say to Mr.

He not only terrified the company with such outbreaks as these, but, when the English side of him turned up in due course, he lost his foreign smoothness; and, getting on the subject of the medical profession, said such downright things in ridicule of doctors, that he actually put good-humoured little Mr. Franklin being led--I forget how--to acknowledge that he had latterly slept very badly at night. Candy thereupon told him that his nerves were all out of order and that he ought to go through a course of medicine immediately. Candy, hitting back smartly, said that Mr Franklin himself was, constitutionally speaking, groping in the dark after sleep, and that nothing but medicine could help him to find it.

Candy, in particular, so completely losing his self-control, in defence of his profession, that my lady was obliged to interfere, and forbid the dispute to go on. The Devil (or the Diamond) possessed that dinner-party; and it was a relief to everybody when my mistress rose, and gave the ladies the signal to leave the gentlemen over their wine. As I live by bread, here were the jugglers returning to us with the return of the Moonstone to the house! As they rounded the corner of the terrace, and came in sight, I hobbled out to warn them off. They whizzed out on to the terrace like a couple of skyrockets, wild to see the Indians exhibit their tricks. If our suspicions were right, there she stood, innocent of all knowledge of the truth, showing the Indians the Diamond in the bosom of her dress!

What with the vexation about the dinner, and what with the provocation of the rogues coming back just in the nick of time to see the jewel with their own eyes, I own I lost my head. Skirting the half-circle in which the gentlefolks stood or sat, he came quietly behind the jugglers and spoke to them on a sudden in the language of their own country.

The next moment they were bowing and salaaming to him in their most polite and snaky way. After a few words in the unknown tongue had passed on either side, Mr. The chief Indian, who acted as interpreter, thereupon wheeled about again towards the gentlefolks. Murthwaite had spoken to him. He bowed to my lady, and informed her that the exhibition was over. Murthwaite for stopping the performance. The ladies withdrew to the drawing-room; and the gentlemen (excepting Mr. Murthwaite) returned to their wine. Going back by way of the shrubbery, I smelt tobacco, and found Mr. Franklin beckoned to me to join them.

Franklin, presenting me to the great traveller, “is Gabriel Betteredge, the old servant and friend of our family of whom I spoke to you just now. Tell him, if you please, what you have just told me.” Mr.

Murthwaite took his cheroot out of his mouth, and leaned, in his weary way, against the trunk of a tree. All you have seen to-night is a very bad and clumsy imitation of it. I charged them with being disguised, and you saw how it told on them, clever as the Hindoo people are in concealing their feelings. In the land they live in that is a tremendous sacrifice to make.

There must be some very serious motive at the bottom of it, and some justification of no ordinary kind to plead for them, in recovery of their caste, when they return to their own country.” I was struck dumb. Franklin, after what looked to me like a little private veering about between the different sides of his character, broke the silence as follows: “I feel some hesitation, Mr.

Murthwaite, in troubling you with family matters, in which you can have no interest and which I am not very willing to speak of out of our own circle. But, after what you have said, I feel bound, in the interests of Lady Verinder and her daughter, to tell you something which may possibly put the clue into your hands.

I speak to you in confidence; you will oblige me, I am sure, by not forgetting that?” With this preface, he told the Indian traveller all that he had told me at the Shivering Sand. Franklin’s turn to be astonished now.

“I can’t doubt, after what you have told me, that the restoration of the Moonstone to its place on the forehead of the Indian idol, is the motive and the justification of that sacrifice of caste which I alluded to just now. It was daylight, both times, I suppose, when you took the jewel out of the bank in London?” “Broad daylight,” says Mr. “And plenty of people in the streets?” “Plenty.” “You settled, of course, to arrive at Lady Verinder’s house at a certain time? I arrived four hours earlier than my appointment.” “I beg to congratulate you on that proceeding! When did you take the Diamond to the bank at the town here?” “I took it an hour after I had brought it to this house--and three hours before anybody was prepared for seeing me in these parts.” “I beg to congratulate you again! I happened to ride back with my cousins and the groom.” “I beg to congratulate you for the third time! If you ever feel inclined to travel beyond the civilised limits, Mr. “You don’t really mean to say, sir,” I asked, “that they would have taken Mr.

Franklin’s life, to get their Diamond, if he had given them the chance?” “Do you smoke, Mr. If a thousand lives stood between them and the getting back of their Diamond--and if they thought they could destroy those lives without discovery--they would take them all. Franklin, expressing no opinion at all, brought us back to the matter in hand. “They have seen the Moonstone on Miss Verinder’s dress,” he said. “What is to be done?” “What your uncle threatened to do,” answered Mr. “Colonel Herncastle understood the people he had to deal with. Send the Diamond to-morrow (under guard of more than one man) to be cut up at Amsterdam.

There is an end of its sacred identity as The Moonstone--and there is an end of the conspiracy.” Mr. Franklin turned to me.

“We must speak to Lady Verinder to-morrow.” “What about to-night, sir?” I asked. “The Indians won’t risk coming back to-night,” he said. “The direct way is hardly ever the way they take to anything--let alone a matter like this, in which the slightest mistake might be fatal to their reaching their end.” “But suppose the rogues are bolder than you think, sir?” I persisted. Betteredge, the mastiff and the bloodhound have one great merit--they are not likely to be troubled with your scruples about the sanctity of human life.” The strumming of the piano reached us from the drawing-room, as he fired that shot at me. He threw away his cheroot, and took Mr. Franklin’s arm, to go back to the ladies. I noticed that the sky was clouding over fast, as I followed them to the house. Murthwaite noticed it too. Betteredge, to-night!” It was all very well for HIM to joke. But I was not an eminent traveller--and my way in this world had not led me into playing ducks and drakes with my own life, among thieves and murderers in the outlandish places of the earth.

I went into my own little room, and sat down in my chair in a perspiration, and wondered helplessly what was to be done next.

In this anxious frame of mind, other men might have ended by working themselves up into a fever; I ended in a different way. I lit my pipe, and took a turn at ROBINSON CRUSOE. Before I had been at it five minutes, I came to this amazing bit--page one hundred and sixty-one--as follows: “Fear of Danger is ten thousand times more terrifying than Danger itself, when apparent to the Eyes; and we find the Burthen of Anxiety greater, by much, than the Evil which we are anxious about.” The man who doesn’t believe in ROBINSON CRUSOE, after THAT, is a man with a screw loose in his understanding, or a man lost in the mist of his own self-conceit! She had left the Bouncers singing a duet--words beginning with a large “O,” and music to correspond. Threadgall by showing her some photographs, and really occupied in stealing looks at Mr. Candy, the doctor, who had mysteriously disappeared from the drawing-room, and had then mysteriously returned, and entered into conversation with Mr. Upon the whole, things were prospering better than the experience of the dinner gave us any right to expect. If we could only hold on for another hour, old Father Time would bring up their carriages, and relieve us of them altogether.

Instead of taking the footman, whose nose was human, and therefore useless in any emergency, I took the bloodhound with me. HIS nose for a stranger was to be depended on. We went all round the premises, and out into the road--and returned as wise as we went, having discovered no such thing as a lurking human creature anywhere. It poured as if it meant to pour all night. With the exception of the doctor, whose gig was waiting for him, the rest of the company went home snugly, under cover, in close carriages. I told Mr. He told me, in return, that he wondered I had arrived at my time of life, without knowing that a doctor’s skin was waterproof.

The next thing to tell is the story of the night. CHAPTER XI When the last of the guests had driven away, I went back into the inner hall and found Samuel at the side-table, presiding over the brandy and soda-water. Franklin took nothing.

He sat down, looking dead tired; the talking on this birthday occasion had, I suppose, been too much for him. My lady, turning round to wish them good-night, looked hard at the wicked Colonel’s legacy shining in her daughter’s dress. “Rachel,” she asked, “where are you going to put your Diamond to-night?” Miss Rachel was in high good spirits, just in that humour for talking nonsense, and perversely persisting in it as if it was sense, which you may sometimes have observed in young girls, when they are highly wrought up, at the end of an exciting day. First, she declared she didn’t know where to put the Diamond.

Then she said, “on her dressing-table, of course, along with her other things.” Then she remembered that the Diamond might take to shining of itself, with its awful moony light in the dark--and that would terrify her in the dead of night. Then she bethought herself of an Indian cabinet which stood in her sitting-room; and instantly made up her mind to put the Indian diamond in the Indian cabinet, for the purpose of permitting two beautiful native productions to admire each other. Having let her little flow of nonsense run on as far as that point, her mother interposed and stopped her. your Indian cabinet has no lock to it,” says my lady. She next turned to Miss Rachel, and kissed her. “Why not let ME keep the Diamond for you to-night?” she asked. Miss Rachel received that proposal as she might, ten years since, have received a proposal to part her from a new doll. “Come into my room, Rachel, the first thing to-morrow morning,” she said.

“I shall have something to say to you.” With those last words she left us slowly; thinking her own thoughts, and, to all appearance, not best pleased with the way by which they were leading her. Miss Rachel was the next to say good-night. Then she turned back to Mr. Franklin had given to her, out of the bosom of her dress, and showing it to him for a moment, with a smile which certainly meant something out of the common, before she tripped off to bed. I began to think that Penelope might be right about the state of her young lady’s affections, after all. As soon as Miss Rachel left him eyes to see with, Mr. “Betteredge,” he said, “I’m half inclined to think I took Mr.

Murthwaite too seriously, when we had that talk in the shrubbery. Do you really mean to let the dogs loose?” “I’ll relieve them of their collars, sir,” I answered, “and leave them free to take a turn in the night, if they smell a reason for it.” “All right,” says Mr. “We’ll see what is to be done to-morrow. I am not at all disposed to alarm my aunt, Betteredge, without a very pressing reason for it. Good-night.” He looked so worn and pale as he nodded to me, and took his candle to go up-stairs, that I ventured to advise his having a drop of brandy-and-water, by way of night-cap. Godfrey, walking towards us from the other end of the hall, backed me. Franklin, in the friendliest manner, to take something, before he went to bed. I only note these trifling circumstances, because, after all I had seen and heard, that day, it pleased me to observe that our two gentlemen were on just as good terms as ever. Their warfare of words (heard by Penelope in the drawing-room), and their rivalry for the best place in Miss Rachel’s good graces, seemed to have set no serious difference between them.

Godfrey, their rooms being next door to each other. “Perhaps I may want it in the night,” he called down to me. “Send up some brandy-and-water into my room.” I sent up Samuel with the brandy-and-water; and then went out and unbuckled the dogs’ collars.

They both lost their heads with astonishment on being set loose at that time of night, and jumped upon me like a couple of puppies! However, the rain soon cooled them down again: they lapped a drop of water each, and crept back into their kennels.

As I went into the house I noticed signs in the sky which betokened a break in the weather for the better. I examined everything myself, and trusted nothing to my deputy on this occasion. The worries of the day had been a little too much for me, I suppose. At any rate, I had a touch of Mr. It was sunrise before I fell off at last into a sleep. The clock had struck eight, and I was just going out to chain up the dogs again, when I heard a sudden whisking of petticoats on the stairs behind me. Come up and see.” She dragged me after her into our young lady’s sitting-room, which opened into her bedroom. There, on the threshold of her bedroom door, stood Miss Rachel, almost as white in the face as the white dressing-gown that clothed her. There also stood the two doors of the Indian cabinet, wide open. “I myself saw Miss Rachel put the Diamond into that drawer last night.” I went to the cabinet.

With a look that was not like herself, with a voice that was not like her own, Miss Rachel answered as my daughter had answered: “The Diamond is gone!” Having said those words, she withdrew into her bedroom, and shut and locked the door. Before we knew which way to turn next, my lady came in, hearing my voice in her daughter’s sitting-room, and wondering what had happened. The news of the loss of the Diamond seemed to petrify her.

She went straight to Miss Rachel’s bedroom, and insisted on being admitted. Godfrey was the first to come out of his room.

All he did when he heard what had happened was to hold up his hands in a state of bewilderment, which didn’t say much for his natural strength of mind. Franklin, whose clear head I had confidently counted on to advise us, seemed to be as helpless as his cousin when he heard the news in his turn. For a wonder, he had had a good night’s rest at last; and the unaccustomed luxury of sleep had, as he said himself, apparently stupefied him. However, when he had swallowed his cup of coffee--which he always took, on the foreign plan, some hours before he ate any breakfast--his brains brightened; the clear-headed side of him turned up, and he took the matter in hand, resolutely and cleverly, much as follows: He first sent for the servants, and told them to leave all the lower doors and windows (with the exception of the front door, which I had opened) exactly as they had been left when we locked up over night. He next proposed to his cousin and to me to make quite sure, before we took any further steps, that the Diamond had not accidentally dropped somewhere out of sight--say at the back of the cabinet, or down behind the table on which the cabinet stood. Having searched in both places, and found nothing--having also questioned Penelope, and discovered from her no more than the little she had already told me--Mr. Franklin suggested next extending our inquiries to Miss Rachel, and sent Penelope to knock at her bed-room door. “The loss of the Diamond seems to have quite overwhelmed Rachel,” she said, in reply to Mr.

“She shrinks, in the strangest manner, from speaking of it, even to ME. It is impossible you can see her for the present.” Having added to our perplexities by this account of Miss Rachel, my lady, after a little effort, recovered her usual composure, and acted with her usual decision. “I suppose I have no alternative but to send for the police?” “And the first thing for the police to do,” added Mr. Franklin, catching her up, “is to lay hands on the Indian jugglers who performed here last night.” My lady and Mr.

“I can’t stop to explain myself now,” Mr. “I can only tell you that the Indians have certainly stolen the Diamond. Give me a letter of introduction,” says he, addressing my lady, “to one of the magistrates at Frizinghall--merely telling him that I represent your interests and wishes, and let me ride off with it instantly. Franklin seemed to be uppermost now. The only question was, How long would it last?) He put pen, ink, and paper before his aunt, who (as it appeared to me) wrote the letter he wanted a little unwillingly. If it had been possible to overlook such an event as the loss of a jewel worth twenty thousand pounds, I believe--with my lady’s opinion of her late brother, and her distrust of his birthday-gift--it would have been privately a relief to her to let the thieves get off with the Moonstone scot free. Franklin to the stables, and took the opportunity of asking him how the Indians (whom I suspected, of course, as shrewdly as he did) could possibly have got into the house.

“One of them might have slipped into the hall, in the confusion, when the dinner company were going away,” says Mr. “The fellow may have been under the sofa while my aunt and Rachel were talking about where the Diamond was to be put for the night. He would only have to wait till the house was quiet, and there it would be in the cabinet, to be had for the taking.” With those words, he called to the groom to open the gate, and galloped off. This seemed certainly to be the only rational explanation. But how had the thief contrived to make his escape from the house? I had found the front door locked and bolted, as I had left it at night, when I went to open it, after getting up.

As for the other doors and windows, there they were still, all safe and fast, to speak for themselves.

The dogs, too?

As the doubt crossed my mind, the dogs themselves came galloping at me round a corner, rolling each other over on the wet grass, in such lively health and spirits that it was with no small difficulty I brought them to reason, and chained them up again. The more I turned it over in my mind, the less satisfactory Mr.

Franklin’s explanation appeared to be. When we had done, my lady sent for me; and I found myself compelled to tell her all that I had hitherto concealed, relating to the Indians and their plot. Being a woman of a high courage, she soon got over the first startling effect of what I had to communicate.

Her mind seemed to be far more perturbed about her daughter than about the heathen rogues and their conspiracy. “You know how odd Rachel is, and how differently she behaves sometimes from other girls,” my lady said to me. The loss of her jewel seems almost to have turned her brain. Taking toys and trinkets in general, Miss Rachel was nothing like so mad after them as most young girls. It is but fair to add that she was not the only one of us in the house who was thrown out of the regular groove. Godfrey, for instance--though professionally a sort of consoler-general--seemed to be at a loss where to look for his own resources. Having no company to amuse him, and getting no chance of trying what his experience of women in distress could do towards comforting Miss Rachel, he wandered hither and thither about the house and gardens in an aimless uneasy way. He was in two different minds about what it became him to do, after the misfortune that had happened to us. Ought he to relieve the family, in their present situation, of the responsibility of him as a guest, or ought he to stay on the chance that even his humble services might be of some use? He decided ultimately that the last course was perhaps the most customary and considerate course to take, in such a very peculiar case of family distress as this was.

Godfrey, tried by circumstances, showed himself of weaker metal than I had thought him to be. As for the women-servants excepting Rosanna Spearman, who kept by herself--they took to whispering together in corners, and staring at nothing suspiciously, as is the manner of that weaker half of the human family, when anything extraordinary happens in a house. I myself acknowledge to have been fidgety and ill-tempered.

The cursed Moonstone had turned us all upside down. The resolute side of him had, to all appearance, given way, in the interval since his departure, under the stress that had been laid on it. He had left us at a gallop; he came back to us at a walk. When he returned, he was stuffed with cotton, as limp as limp could be. Franklin, dwelling with great relish on his own incapacity, “to be simply impossible.” After astonishing us by announcing this totally new turn in the matter of the Moonstone, our young gentleman, at his aunt’s request, took a seat, and explained himself. The first inquiries instituted about the Indians showed that they had not so much as attempted to leave the town.

Further questions addressed to the police, proved that all three had been seen returning to Frizinghall with their boy, on the previous night between ten and eleven--which (regard being had to hours and distances) also proved that they had walked straight back after performing on our terrace. Later still, at midnight, the police, having occasion to search the common lodging-house where they lived, had seen them all three again, and their little boy with them, as usual.

But, as it was just possible, when the police came to investigate the matter, that discoveries affecting the jugglers might be made, he would contrive, by committing them as rogues and vagabonds, to keep them at our disposal, under lock and key, for a week. They had ignorantly done something (I forget what) in the town, which barely brought them within the operation of the law. The Indian clue to the mystery of the lost jewel was now, to all appearance, a clue that had broken in our hands. If the jugglers were innocent, who, in the name of wonder, had taken the Moonstone out of Miss Rachel’s drawer? Ten minutes later, to our infinite relief; Superintendent Seegrave arrived at the house.

For a family in our situation, the Superintendent of the Frizinghall police was the most comforting officer you could wish to see. He had a fine commanding voice, and a mighty resolute eye, and a grand frock-coat which buttoned beautifully up to his leather stock. He began by going round the premises, outside and in; the result of that investigation proving to him that no thieves had broken in upon us from outside, and that the robbery, consequently, must have been committed by some person in the house. I leave you to imagine the state the servants were in when this official announcement first reached their ears. The Superintendent decided to begin by examining the boudoir, and, that done, to examine the servants next. At the same time, he posted one of his men on the staircase which led to the servants’ bedrooms, with instructions to let nobody in the house pass him, till further orders. They bounced out of their corners, whisked up-stairs in a body to Miss Rachel’s room (Rosanna Spearman being carried away among them this time), burst in on Superintendent Seegrave, and, all looking equally guilty, summoned him to say which of them he suspected, at once. Superintendent proved equal to the occasion; he looked at them with his resolute eye, and he cowed them with his military voice.

Superintendent, suddenly pointing to a little smear of the decorative painting on Miss Rachel’s door, at the outer edge, just under the lock. clear out!” Rosanna Spearman, who was nearest to him, and nearest to the little smear on the door, set the example of obedience, and slipped off instantly to her work. Superintendent proved to be a little too sharp with Penelope at starting. “Now, young woman, attend to me, and mind you speak the truth.” Penelope fired up instantly. “I’ve never been taught to tell lies Mr. Policeman!--and if father can stand there and hear me accused of falsehood and thieving, and my own bed-room shut against me, and my character taken away, which is all a poor girl has left, he’s not the good father I take him for!” A timely word from me put Justice and Penelope on a pleasanter footing together. Superintendent next asked to see Miss Rachel herself. The answer reached us by the same road: “I have nothing to tell the policeman--I can’t see anybody.” Our experienced officer looked equally surprised and offended when he heard that reply. I told him my young lady was ill, and begged him to wait a little and see her later.

The two gentlemen, being inmates of the house, were summoned to say if they could throw any light on the matter. Franklin, still sticking to the helpless view of our difficulty, whispered to me: “That man will be of no earthly use to us.

Godfrey whispered to me--“Evidently a most competent person. Superintendent’s next proceeding took him back to the “boudoir” again, with my daughter and me at his heels. His object was to discover whether any of the furniture had been moved, during the night, out of its customary place--his previous investigation in the room having, apparently, not gone quite far enough to satisfy his mind on this point. After having denied herself to everybody, Miss Rachel, to our astonishment, walked into the midst of us of her own accord. She took up her garden hat from a chair, and then went straight to Penelope with this question:-- “Mr. Franklin Blake sent you with a message to me this morning?” “Yes, miss.” “He wished to speak to me, didn’t he?” “Yes, miss.” “Where is he now?” Hearing voices on the terrace below, I looked out of window, and saw the two gentlemen walking up and down together. Superintendent, who tried to speak to her, pale as death, and wrapped up strangely in her own thoughts, she left the room, and went down to her cousins on the terrace. She went up to Mr. Franklin without appearing to notice Mr. What she said to Mr.

Franklin appeared to be spoken vehemently. It lasted but for a short time, and, judging by what I saw of his face from the window, seemed to astonish him beyond all power of expression. While they were still together, my lady appeared on the terrace. Miss Rachel saw her--said a few last words to Mr. Franklin--and suddenly went back into the house again, before her mother came up with her. Franklin’s surprise, spoke to him. Franklin walked away a little between the two, telling them what had happened I suppose, for they both stopped short, after taking a few steps, like persons struck with amazement. Miss Rachel walked swiftly through to her bed-room, wild and angry, with fierce eyes and flaming cheeks. Superintendent once more attempted to question her.

Penelope, standing nearest to it, heard her burst out crying the moment she was alone again. I told the Superintendent it meant that Miss Rachel’s temper was upset by the loss of her jewel.

Being anxious for the honour of the family, it distressed me to see my young lady forget herself--even with a police-officer--and I made the best excuse I could, accordingly. Taking what she had said at her bed-room door as a guide to guess by, I could only conclude that she was mortally offended by our sending for the police, and that Mr. Franklin’s astonishment on the terrace was caused by her having expressed herself to him (as the person chiefly instrumental in fetching the police) to that effect. If this guess was right, why--having lost her Diamond--should she object to the presence in the house of the very people whose business it was to recover it for her? And how, in Heaven’s name, could SHE know that the Moonstone would never be found again? As things stood, at present, no answer to those questions was to be hoped for from anybody in the house. Franklin appeared to think it a point of honour to forbear repeating to a servant--even to so old a servant as I was--what Miss Rachel had said to him on the terrace. Godfrey, who, as a gentleman and a relative, had been probably admitted into Mr.

Franklin’s confidence, respected that confidence as he was bound to do. My lady, who was also in the secret no doubt, and who alone had access to Miss Rachel, owned openly that she could make nothing of her. “You madden me when you talk of the Diamond!” All her mother’s influence failed to extract from her a word more than that. Here we were, then, at a dead-lock about Miss Rachel--and at a dead-lock about the Moonstone. In the first case, my lady was powerless to help us.

Having ferreted about all over the “boudoir,” without making any discoveries among the furniture, our experienced officer applied to me to know, whether the servants in general were or were not acquainted with the place in which the Diamond had been put for the night. “I knew where it was put, sir,” I said, “to begin with. Samuel, the footman, knew also--for he was present in the hall, when they were talking about where the Diamond was to be kept that night. My daughter knew, as she has already told you. She or Samuel may have mentioned the thing to the other servants--or the other servants may have heard the talk for themselves, through the side-door of the hall, which might have been open to the back staircase.

Superintendent’s suspicions to range over, he tried to narrow it by asking about the servants’ characters next.

But it was neither my place nor my wish to direct suspicion against a poor girl, whose honesty had been above all doubt as long as I had known her. The matron at the Reformatory had reported her to my lady as a sincerely penitent and thoroughly trustworthy girl. It was the Superintendent’s business to discover reason for suspecting her first--and then, and not till then, it would be my duty to tell him how she came into my lady’s service.

Seegrave to do--namely, to set to work, and tackle the servants’ characters himself. One after another, they proved to have nothing to say--and said it (so far as the women were concerned) at great length, and with a very angry sense of the embargo laid on their bed-rooms.

The rest of them being sent back to their places downstairs, Penelope was then summoned, and examined separately a second time. My daughter’s little outbreak of temper in the “boudoir,” and her readiness to think herself suspected, appeared to have produced an unfavourable impression on Superintendent Seegrave. It seemed also to dwell a little on his mind, that she had been the last person who saw the Diamond at night. When the second questioning was over, my girl came back to me in a frenzy. There was no doubt of it any longer--the police-officer had almost as good as told her she was the thief! Franklin’s view) to be quite such an ass as that. But, though he said nothing, the eye with which he looked at my daughter was not a very pleasant eye to see. I laughed it off with poor Penelope, as something too ridiculous to be treated seriously--which it certainly was. Secretly, I am afraid I was foolish enough to be angry too. The next and last step in the investigation brought matters, as they say, to a crisis.

After informing her that the Diamond must have been taken by somebody in the house, he requested permission for himself and his men to search the servants’ rooms and boxes on the spot. My good mistress, like the generous high-bred woman she was, refused to let us be treated like thieves. “I will never consent to make such a return as that,” she said, “for all I owe to the faithful servants who are employed in my house.” Mr. Superintendent made his bow, with a look in my direction, which said plainly, “Why employ me, if you are to tie my hands in this way?” As head of the servants, I felt directly that we were bound, in justice to all parties, not to profit by our mistress’s generosity. “We gratefully thank your ladyship,” I said; “but we ask your permission to do what is right in this matter by giving up our keys. When Gabriel Betteredge sets the example,” says I, stopping Superintendent Seegrave at the door, “the rest of the servants will follow, I promise you.

There are my keys, to begin with!” My lady took me by the hand, and thanked me with the tears in her eyes. As I had promised for them, the other servants followed my lead, sorely against the grain, of course, but all taking the view that I took. The women were a sight to see, while the police-officers were rummaging among their things.

The search over, and no Diamond or sign of a Diamond being found, of course, anywhere, Superintendent Seegrave retired to my little room to consider with himself what he was to do next. He and his men had now been hours in the house, and had not advanced us one inch towards a discovery of how the Moonstone had been taken, or of whom we were to suspect as the thief. While the police-officer was still pondering in solitude, I was sent for to see Mr. To my unutterable astonishment, just as my hand was on the door, it was suddenly opened from the inside, and out walked Rosanna Spearman! I stopped Rosanna Spearman, and charged her with a breach of domestic discipline on the spot. Franklin Blake dropped one of his rings up-stairs,” says Rosanna; “and I have been into the library to give it to him.” The girl’s face was all in a flush as she made me that answer; and she walked away with a toss of her head and a look of self-importance which I was quite at a loss to account for. The proceedings in the house had doubtless upset all the women-servants more or less; but none of them had gone clean out of their natural characters, as Rosanna, to all appearance, had now gone out of hers. He asked for a conveyance to the railway station the moment I entered the room. The man made of cotton had disappeared; and the man made of iron sat before me again. “Going to London, sir?” I asked.

“Going to telegraph to London,” says Mr. “I have convinced my aunt that we must have a cleverer head than Superintendent Seegrave’s to help us; and I have got her permission to despatch a telegram to my father. He knows the Chief Commissioner of Police, and the Commissioner can lay his hand on the right man to solve the mystery of the Diamond. Franklin, dropping his voice, “I have another word to say to you before you go to the stables. Don’t breathe a word of it to anybody as yet; but either Rosanna Spearman’s head is not quite right, or I am afraid she knows more about the Moonstone than she ought to know.” I can hardly tell whether I was more startled or distressed at hearing him say that. If I had been younger, I might have confessed as much to Mr. In cases where you don’t see your way clearly, you hold your tongue. “When I had thanked her, of course I expected her to go.

Instead of that, she stood opposite to me at the table, looking at me in the oddest manner--half frightened, and half familiar--I couldn’t make it out. nor the person who took it--I’ll answer for that.’ She actually nodded and smiled at me! What on earth does it mean?” I could not bring myself to tell him the girl’s story, even then. Besides, even if I had made a clean breast of it, and even supposing she was the thief, the reason why she should let out her secret to Mr. Franklin, of all the people in the world, would have been still as far to seek as ever.

“I can’t bear the idea of getting the poor girl into a scrape, merely because she has a flighty way with her, and talks very strangely,” Mr. “And yet if she had said to the Superintendent what she said to me, fool as he is, I’m afraid----” He stopped there, and left the rest unspoken. “The best way, sir,” I said, “will be for me to say two words privately to my mistress about it at the first opportunity. When there’s a mess of any kind in a house, sir, the women-servants like to look at the gloomy side--it gives the poor wretches a kind of importance in their own eyes. If it’s a jewel lost, trust them for prophesying that it will never be found again.” This view (which I am bound to say, I thought a probable view myself, on reflection) seemed to relieve Mr. On my way to the stables, to order the pony-chaise, I looked in at the servants’ hall, where they were at dinner. On inquiry, I found that she had been suddenly taken ill, and had gone up-stairs to her own room to lie down.

If it was possible for Penelope to be right, the explanation of Rosanna’s strange language and behaviour might have been all in this--that she didn’t care what she said, so long as she could surprise Mr.

Franklin into speaking to her. Granting that to be the right reading of the riddle, it accounted, perhaps, for her flighty, self-conceited manner when she passed me in the hall.

Franklin had spoken to her. In the infernal network of mysteries and uncertainties that now surrounded us, I declare it was a relief to observe how well the buckles and straps understood each other! When you had seen the pony backed into the shafts of the chaise, you had seen something there was no doubt about.

Going round with the chaise to the front door, I found not only Mr. Superintendent’s reflections (after failing to find the Diamond in the servants’ rooms or boxes) had led him, it appeared, to an entirely new conclusion.

Still sticking to his first text, namely, that somebody in the house had stolen the jewel, our experienced officer was now of the opinion that the thief (he was wise enough not to name poor Penelope, whatever he might privately think of her!) had been acting in concert with the Indians; and he accordingly proposed shifting his inquiries to the jugglers in the prison at Frizinghall. Franklin had volunteered to take the Superintendent back to the town, from which he could telegraph to London as easily as from our station.

Seegrave, and greatly interested in witnessing the examination of the Indians, had begged leave to accompany the officer to Frizinghall. One of the two inferior policemen was to be left at the house, in case anything happened. The other was to go back with the Superintendent to the town. Before he took the reins to drive off, Mr.

“I will wait to telegraph to London,” he said, “till I see what comes of our examination of the Indians. My own conviction is, that this muddle-headed local police-officer is as much in the dark as ever, and is simply trying to gain time. I don’t ask you to do anything degrading to your own self-respect, or anything cruel towards the girl. I only ask you to exercise your observation more carefully than usual.

“I am very uneasy about her.” He left me suddenly; as if he desired to cut short any further talk between us. I thought I understood why.

Further talk might have let me into the secret of what Miss Rachel had said to him on the terrace. So they drove away to Frizinghall. I was ready enough, in the girl’s own interest, to have a little talk with Rosanna in private. But the needful opportunity failed to present itself. When she did appear, she was flighty and excited, had what they call an hysterical attack, took a dose of sal-volatile by my lady’s order, and was sent back to her bed. The day wore on to its end drearily and miserably enough, I can tell you. Miss Rachel still kept her room, declaring that she was too ill to come down to dinner that day.

My lady was in such low spirits about her daughter, that I could not bring myself to make her additionally anxious, by reporting what Rosanna Spearman had said to Mr. Penelope persisted in believing that she was to be forthwith tried, sentenced, and transported for theft. The other women took to their Bibles and hymn-books, and looked as sour as verjuice over their reading--a result, which I have observed, in my sphere of life, to follow generally on the performance of acts of piety at unaccustomed periods of the day. As for me, I hadn’t even heart enough to open my ROBINSON CRUSOE. I went out into the yard, and, being hard up for a little cheerful society, set my chair by the kennels, and talked to the dogs. Half an hour before dinner-time, the two gentlemen came back from Frizinghall, having arranged with Superintendent Seegrave that he was to return to us the next day. Murthwaite, the Indian traveller, at his present residence, near the town. Franklin had sent his telegraphic message to London, and there the matter now rested till to-morrow came. So much for the history of the day that followed the birthday. Item the first: the baker’s man declared he had met Rosanna Spearman, on the previous afternoon, with a thick veil on, walking towards Frizinghall by the foot-path way over the moor.

Candy had said one more of his many unlucky things, when he drove off in the rain on the birthday night, and told me that a doctor’s skin was waterproof. The last accounts, brought by the postman, represented him to be light-headed--talking nonsense as glibly, poor man, in his delirium as he often talked it in his sober senses. We were all sorry for the little doctor; but Mr.

Franklin appeared to regret his illness, chiefly on Miss Rachel’s account.

From what he said to my lady, while I was in the room at breakfast-time, he appeared to think that Miss Rachel--if the suspense about the Moonstone was not soon set at rest--might stand in urgent need of the best medical advice at our disposal. Blake, the elder, arrived, in answer to his son. It informed us that he had laid hands (by help of his friend, the Commissioner) on the right man to help us. “I begin to hope we are seeing the end of our anxieties already,” he said. “If half the stories I have heard are true, when it comes to unravelling a mystery, there isn’t the equal in England of Sergeant Cuff!” We all got excited and impatient as the time drew near for the appearance of this renowned and capable character. Superintendent Seegrave, returning to us at his appointed time, and hearing that the Sergeant was expected, instantly shut himself up in a room, with pen, ink, and paper, to make notes of the Report which would be certainly expected from him. I should have liked to have gone to the station myself, to fetch the Sergeant.

But my lady’s carriage and horses were not to be thought of, even for the celebrated Cuff; and the pony-chaise was required later for Mr. He deeply regretted being obliged to leave his aunt at such an anxious time; and he kindly put off the hour of his departure till as late as the last train, for the purpose of hearing what the clever London police-officer thought of the case.

But on Friday night he must be in town, having a Ladies’ Charity, in difficulties, waiting to consult him on Saturday morning. When the time came for the Sergeant’s arrival, I went down to the gate to look out for him.

A more complete opposite to Superintendent Seegrave than Sergeant Cuff, and a less comforting officer to look at, for a family in distress, I defy you to discover, search where you may. “Yes, sir.” “I am Sergeant Cuff.” “This way, sir, if you please.” On our road to the house, I mentioned my name and position in the family, to satisfy him that he might speak to me about the business on which my lady was to employ him. We reached the house, in the temper of two strange dogs, coupled up together for the first time in their lives by the same chain. Asking for my lady, and hearing that she was in one of the conservatories, we went round to the gardens at the back, and sent a servant to seek her. To the gardener’s astonishment, and to my disgust, this celebrated policeman proved to be quite a mine of learning on the trumpery subject of rose-gardens. “Ah, you’ve got the right exposure here to the south and sou’-west,” says the Sergeant, with a wag of his grizzled head, and a streak of pleasure in his melancholy voice. But they oughtn’t to be gravel walks like these.

Gardener--grass walks between your roses; gravel’s too hard for them. They always mix well together, don’t they? Pretty dear!” says the Sergeant, fondling the Musk Rose with his lanky fingers, and speaking to it as if he was speaking to a child. This was a nice sort of man to recover Miss Rachel’s Diamond, and to find out the thief who stole it! “You seem to be fond of roses, Sergeant?” I remarked. “I haven’t much time to be fond of anything,” says Sergeant Cuff. “But when I have a moment’s fondness to bestow, most times, Mr. Gardener, between my beds,” says the Sergeant, on whose mind the gravel paths of our rosery seemed to dwell unpleasantly. “It seems an odd taste, sir,” I ventured to say, “for a man in your line of life.” “If you will look about you (which most people won’t do),” says Sergeant Cuff, “you will see that the nature of a man’s tastes is, most times, as opposite as possible to the nature of a man’s business. Show me any two things more opposite one from the other than a rose and a thief; and I’ll correct my tastes accordingly--if it isn’t too late at my time of life.

You find the damask rose a goodish stock for most of the tender sorts, don’t you, Mr. Is it Lady Verinder?” He had seen her before either I or the gardener had seen her, though we knew which way to look, and he didn’t. I began to think him rather a quicker man than he appeared to be at first sight. The Sergeant’s appearance, or the Sergeant’s errand--one or both--seemed to cause my lady some little embarrassment.

She was, for the first time in all my experience of her, at a loss what to say at an interview with a stranger. He asked if any other person had been employed about the robbery before we sent for him; and hearing that another person had been called in, and was now in the house, begged leave to speak to him before anything else was done. Before he followed her, the Sergeant relieved his mind on the subject of the gravel walks by a parting word to the gardener. “Get her ladyship to try grass,” he said, with a sour look at the paths.

no gravel!” Why Superintendent Seegrave should have appeared to be several sizes smaller than life, on being presented to Sergeant Cuff, I can’t undertake to explain. They retired together; and remained a weary long time shut up from all mortal intrusion. “The Sergeant wishes to see Miss Verinder’s sitting-room,” says Mr. “The Sergeant may have some questions to ask. Superintendent, and continually of me), the drift of which I believe to have been equally unintelligible to both of us.

In due time, his course brought him to the door, and put him face to face with the decorative painting that you know of. He laid one lean inquiring finger on the small smear, just under the lock, which Superintendent Seegrave had already noticed, when he reproved the women-servants for all crowding together into the room. “How did it happen?” He put the question to me. I answered that the women-servants had crowded into the room on the previous morning, and that some of their petticoats had done the mischief, “Superintendent Seegrave ordered them out, sir,” I added, “before they did any more harm.” “Right!” says Mr. The petticoats did it, Sergeant--the petticoats did it.” “Did you notice which petticoat did it?” asked Sergeant Cuff, still addressing himself, not to his brother-officer, but to me. “No, sir.” He turned to Superintendent Seegrave upon that, and said, “You noticed, I suppose?” Mr. Franklin was as close at hand as could be--waiting for his first chance of being introduced to the great Cuff. “That was the last morsel of the door to be finished. We wanted to get it done, on Wednesday last--and I myself completed it by three in the afternoon, or soon after.” “To-day is Friday,” said Sergeant Cuff, addressing himself to Superintendent Seegrave.

The vehicle dried it in twelve hours--that is to say, dried it by three o’clock on Thursday morning. Having settled the question of the paint, Sergeant Cuff, from that moment, gave his brother-officer up as a bad job--and addressed himself to Mr. “It’s quite on the cards, sir,” he said, “that you have put the clue into our hands.” As the words passed his lips, the bedroom door opened, and Miss Rachel came out among us suddenly. She addressed herself to the Sergeant, without appearing to notice (or to heed) that he was a perfect stranger to her.

“Did you say,” she asked, pointing to Mr. Franklin, “that HE had put the clue into your hands?” (“This is Miss Verinder,” I whispered, behind the Sergeant.) “That gentleman, miss,” says the Sergeant--with his steely-grey eyes carefully studying my young lady’s face--“has possibly put the clue into our hands.” She turned for one moment, and tried to look at Mr. There seemed to be some strange disturbance in her mind. With the paleness, there came a new look into her face--a look which it startled me to see. “Having answered your question, miss,” says the Sergeant, “I beg leave to make an inquiry in my turn. Do you happen to know when it was done? “I am Sergeant Cuff, miss, of the Detective Police.” “Do you think a young lady’s advice worth having?” “I shall be glad to hear it, miss.” “Do your duty by yourself--and don’t allow Mr Franklin Blake to help you!” She said those words so spitefully, so savagely, with such an extraordinary outbreak of ill-will towards Mr.

Franklin, in her voice and in her look, that--though I had known her from a baby, though I loved and honoured her next to my lady herself--I was ashamed of Miss Rachel for the first time in my life. “Do you happen to know anything about the smear? I couldn’t bring myself to look at the Sergeant--I looked at Mr. Franklin, who stood nearest to me. He seemed to be even more sorely distressed at what had passed than I was. “I told you I was uneasy about her,” he said. “And now you see why.” “Miss Verinder appears to be a little out of temper about the loss of her Diamond,” remarked the Sergeant. “A young lady’s tongue is a privileged member, sir,” says the Sergeant to Mr. Thanks to you, we know when the paint was dry. The next thing to discover is when the paint was last seen without that smear.

Franklin composed himself, and came back with an effort from Miss Rachel to the matter in hand. Franklin shook his head, and answered, “I can’t say I did.” “Did you?” inquired Sergeant Cuff, turning to me. Franklin struck in there, “Or possibly your daughter, Betteredge.” He turned to Sergeant Cuff, and explained that my daughter was Miss Verinder’s maid.

Betteredge, ask your daughter to step up. Stop!” says the Sergeant, taking me away to the window, out of earshot, “Your Superintendent here,” he went on, in a whisper, “has made a pretty full report to me of the manner in which he has managed this case. It’s very important to smooth them down again.

Tell your daughter, and tell the rest of them, these two things, with my compliments: First, that I have no evidence before me, yet, that the Diamond has been stolen; I only know that the Diamond has been lost. Second, that my business here with the servants is simply to ask them to lay their heads together and help me to find it.” My experience of the women-servants, when Superintendent Seegrave laid his embargo on their rooms, came in handy here. “May I make so bold, Sergeant, as to tell the women a third thing?” I asked.

“Are they free (with your compliments) to fidget up and downstairs, and whisk in and out of their bed-rooms, if the fit takes them?” “Perfectly free,” said the Sergeant. “THAT will smooth them down, sir,” I remarked, “from the cook to the scullion.” “Go, and do it at once, Mr.

There was only one difficulty when I came to the bit about the bed-rooms.

It took a pretty stiff exertion of my authority, as chief, to prevent the whole of the female household from following me and Penelope up-stairs, in the character of volunteer witnesses in a burning fever of anxiety to help Sergeant Cuff. The Sergeant seemed to approve of Penelope. Penelope examined: Took a lively interest in the painting on the door, having helped to mix the colours. Had, at that hour, wished her young lady good night in the bedroom; had heard the clock strike in the “boudoir”; had her hand at the time on the handle of the painted door; knew the paint was wet (having helped to mix the colours, as aforesaid); took particular pains not to touch it; could swear that she held up the skirts of her dress, and that there was no smear on the paint then; could not swear that her dress mightn’t have touched it accidentally in going out; remembered the dress she had on, because it was new, a present from Miss Rachel; her father remembered, and could speak to it, too; could, and would, and did fetch it; dress recognised by her father as the dress she wore that night; skirts examined, a long job from the size of them; not the ghost of a paint-stain discovered anywhere. End of Penelope’s evidence--and very pretty and convincing, too. The Sergeant’s next proceeding was to question me about any large dogs in the house who might have got into the room, and done the mischief with a whisk of their tails. All the signs visible--signs which told that the paint had been smeared by some loose article of somebody’s dress touching it in going by. That somebody (putting together Penelope’s evidence and Mr.

Having brought his investigation to this point, Sergeant Cuff discovered that such a person as Superintendent Seegrave was still left in the room, upon which he summed up the proceedings for his brother-officer’s benefit, as follows: “This trifle of yours, Mr. Superintendent,” says the Sergeant, pointing to the place on the door, “has grown a little in importance since you noticed it last. At the present stage of the inquiry there are, as I take it, three discoveries to make, starting from that smear. Find out (second) who that dress belongs to. If the person can’t satisfy you, you haven’t far to look for the hand that has got the Diamond. I’ll work this by myself, if you please, and detain you no longer-from your regular business in the town. Leave him here at my disposal, in case I want him--and allow me to wish you good morning.” Superintendent Seegrave’s respect for the Sergeant was great; but his respect for himself was greater still. Hit hard by the celebrated Cuff, he hit back smartly, to the best of his ability, on leaving the room. “I have now only one remark to offer on leaving this case in your hands.

Good morning.” “There is also such a thing as making nothing out of a molehill, in consequence of your head being too high to see it.” Having returned his brother-officer’s compliments in those terms, Sergeant Cuff wheeled about, and walked away to the window by himself. Franklin and I waited to see what was coming next.

The Sergeant stood at the window with his hands in his pockets, looking out, and whistling the tune of “The Last Rose of Summer” softly to himself. Later in the proceedings, I discovered that he only forgot his manners so far as to whistle, when his mind was hard at work, seeing its way inch by inch to its own private ends, on which occasions “The Last Rose of Summer” evidently helped and encouraged him. Turning from the window, after a minute or two, the Sergeant walked into the middle of the room, and stopped there, deep in thought, with his eyes on Miss Rachel’s bed-room door. After a little he roused himself, nodded his head, as much as to say, “That will do,” and, addressing me, asked for ten minutes’ conversation with my mistress, at her ladyship’s earliest convenience. Franklin ask the Sergeant a question, and stopped to hear the answer also at the threshold of the door. Franklin, “who has stolen the Diamond?” “NOBODY HAS STOLEN THE DIAMOND,” answered Sergeant Cuff. We both started at that extraordinary view of the case, and both earnestly begged him to tell us what he meant. “The pieces of the puzzle are not all put together yet.” CHAPTER XIII I found my lady in her own sitting room. She started and looked annoyed when I mentioned that Sergeant Cuff wished to speak to her.

“Can’t you represent me, Gabriel?” I felt at a loss to understand this, and showed it plainly, I suppose, in my face.

My lady was so good as to explain herself. I have a presentiment that he is bringing trouble and misery with him into the house. Very foolish, and very unlike ME--but so it is.” I hardly knew what to say to this.

My lady rallied a little after having opened her heart to me--being, naturally, a woman of a high courage, as I have already told you. “But I can’t prevail on myself to see him alone. I went back to the “boudoir.” Mr. Franklin strolled out into the garden, and joined Mr. Sergeant Cuff and I went straight to my mistress’s room. She commanded herself, however, in other respects, and asked the Sergeant if he had any objection to my being present. She was so good as to add, that I was her trusted adviser, as well as her old servant, and that in anything which related to the household I was the person whom it might be most profitable to consult. The Sergeant politely answered that he would take my presence as a favour, having something to say about the servants in general, and having found my experience in that quarter already of some use to him. My lady pointed to two chairs, and we set in for our conference immediately. “I have already formed an opinion on this case,” says Sergeant Cuff, “which I beg your ladyship’s permission to keep to myself for the present.

My business now is to mention what I have discovered upstairs in Miss Verinder’s sitting-room, and what I have decided (with your ladyship’s leave) on doing next.” He then went into the matter of the smear on the paint, and stated the conclusions he drew from it--just as he had stated them (only with greater respect of language) to Superintendent Seegrave. Another thing is next to certain. The marks from the smear on the door must be on some article of dress belonging to somebody in this house. We must discover that article of dress before we go a step further.” “And that discovery,” remarked my mistress, “implies, I presume, the discovery of the thief?” “I beg your ladyship’s pardon--I don’t say the Diamond is stolen. The discovery of the stained dress may lead the way to finding it.” Her ladyship looked at me.

“How do you propose to discover the stained dress?” inquired my mistress, addressing herself once more to the Sergeant. “My good servants, who have been with me for years, have, I am ashamed to say, had their boxes and rooms searched already by the other officer. I can’t and won’t permit them to be insulted in that way a second time!” (There was a mistress to serve! There was a woman in ten thousand, if you like!) “That is the very point I was about to put to your ladyship,” said the Sergeant. “The other officer has done a world of harm to this inquiry, by letting the servants see that he suspected them. If I give them cause to think themselves suspected a second time, there’s no knowing what obstacles they may not throw in my way--the women especially. I quite agree with you, my lady, that the servants’ feelings ought to be consulted.

But I am equally clear that the servants’ wardrobes ought to be searched.” This looked very like a dead-lock.

“I have got a plan to meet the difficulty,” said Sergeant Cuff, “if your ladyship will consent to it.

I propose explaining the case to the servants.” “The women will think themselves suspected directly,” I said, interrupting him. Betteredge,” answered the Sergeant, “if I can tell them I am going to examine the wardrobes of EVERYBODY--from her ladyship downwards--who slept in the house on Wednesday night. “It’s the shortest way that I can see, my lady, to the end we have in view.” My mistress rose to ring the bell for her maid. “You shall speak to the servants,” she said, “with the keys of my wardrobe in your hand.” Sergeant Cuff stopped her by a very unexpected question. “Hadn’t we better make sure first,” he asked, “that the other ladies and gentlemen in the house will consent, too?” “The only other lady in the house is Miss Verinder,” answered my mistress, with a look of surprise. Godfrey himself knocked at the door to say good-bye, and was followed in by Mr.

Franklin, who was going with him to the station. He called to Samuel, through the window, to take his portmanteau up-stairs again, and he then put the key himself into Sergeant Cuff’s hand. “My luggage can follow me to London,” he said, “when the inquiry is over.” The Sergeant received the key with a becoming apology.

“I am sorry to put you to any inconvenience, sir, for a mere formality; but the example of their betters will do wonders in reconciling the servants to this inquiry.” Mr. Godfrey, after taking leave of my lady, in a most sympathising manner, left a farewell message for Miss Rachel, the terms of which made it clear to my mind that he had not taken No for an answer, and that he meant to put the marriage question to her once more, at the next opportunity.

Franklin, on following his cousin out, informed the Sergeant that all his clothes were open to examination, and that nothing he possessed was kept under lock and key. Rachel now wanting to follow their lead, before we called the servants together, and began the search for the stained dress. My lady’s unaccountable objection to the Sergeant seemed to make our conference more distasteful to her than ever, as soon as we were left alone again.

“If I send you down Miss Verinder’s keys,” she said to him, “I presume I shall have done all you want of me for the present?” “I beg your ladyship’s pardon,” said Sergeant Cuff. “Before we begin, I should like, if convenient, to have the washing-book. If the search leads to nothing, I want to be able to account next for all the linen in the house, and for all the linen sent to the wash. If there is an article missing, there will be at least a presumption that it has got the paint-stain on it, and that it has been purposely made away with, yesterday or to-day, by the person owning it. Superintendent Seegrave,” added the Sergeant, turning to me, “pointed the attention of the women-servants to the smear, when they all crowded into the room on Thursday morning.

Betteredge, to have been one more of Superintendent Seegrave’s many mistakes.” My lady desired me to ring the bell, and order the washing-book. She remained with us until it was produced, in case Sergeant Cuff had any further request to make of her after looking at it. The girl had come down to breakfast that morning miserably pale and haggard, but sufficiently recovered from her illness of the previous day to do her usual work. “Have you anything more to say to me?” asked my lady, still as eager as ever to be out of the Sergeant’s society.

The great Cuff opened the washing-book, understood it perfectly in half a minute, and shut it up again. “I venture to trouble your ladyship with one last question,” he said. “The last time I saw her,” answered the Sergeant, “she was in prison for theft.” After that, there was no help for it, but to tell him the truth. My mistress dwelt strongly on Rosanna’s good conduct in her service, and on the high opinion entertained of her by the matron at the reformatory. “I have already told your ladyship that I don’t suspect any person in the house of thieving--up to the present time.” After that answer, my lady rose to go up-stairs, and ask for Miss Rachel’s keys. Sergeant Cuff made no remark to me. He turned his melancholy face to the window; he put his lanky hands into his pockets; and he whistled “The Last Rose of Summer” softly to himself. They informed me that Miss Rachel flatly refused to have her wardrobe examined. I must yield to force if you use it, but I will yield to nothing else.” I understood my lady’s disinclination to face Sergeant Cuff with such an answer from her daughter as that.

If I had not been too old for the amiable weaknesses of youth, I believe I should have blushed at the notion of facing him myself. “My young lady refuses to have her wardrobe examined.” “Ah!” said the Sergeant. When he said “Ah!” he said it in the tone of a man who had heard something which he expected to hear. “Yes,” said the Sergeant, “the search must be given up, because your young lady refuses to submit to it like the rest.

Ablewhite’s portmanteau to London by the next train, and return the washing-book, with my compliments and thanks, to the young woman who brought it in.” He laid the washing-book on the table, and taking out his penknife, began to trim his nails. “You don’t seem to be much disappointed,” I said. “No,” said Sergeant Cuff; “I am not much disappointed.” I tried to make him explain himself. “Isn’t it her interest to help you?” “Wait a little, Mr. “What’s to be done next?” I asked. “Come out into the garden,” he said, “and let’s have a look at the roses.” CHAPTER XIV The nearest way to the garden, on going out of my lady’s sitting-room, was by the shrubbery path, which you already know of. For the sake of your better understanding of what is now to come, I may add to this, that the shrubbery path was Mr.

When he was out in the grounds, and when we failed to find him anywhere else, we generally found him here. The more firmly Sergeant Cuff kept his thoughts shut up from me, the more firmly I persisted in trying to look in at them. As we turned into the shrubbery path, I attempted to circumvent him in another way.

I haven’t brought you out here to draw me like a badger; I have brought you out here to ask for some information. You might have given it to me no doubt, in the house, instead of out of it. But doors and listeners have a knack of getting together; and, in my line of life, we cultivate a healthy taste for the open air.” Who was to circumvent THIS man? I gave in--and waited as patiently as I could to hear what was coming next. “We won’t enter into your young lady’s motives,” the Sergeant went on; “we will only say it’s a pity she declines to assist me, because, by so doing, she makes this investigation more difficult than it might otherwise have been. We must now try to solve the mystery of the smear on the door--which, you may take my word for it, means the mystery of the Diamond also--in some other way. I have decided to see the servants, and to search their thoughts and actions, Mr. Before I begin, however, I want to ask you a question or two.

or unexpectedly taken ill?” I had just time to think of Rosanna Spearman’s sudden illness at yesterday’s dinner--but not time to make any answer--when I saw Sergeant Cuff’s eyes suddenly turn aside towards the shrubbery; and I heard him say softly to himself, “Hullo!” “What’s the matter?” I asked. “A touch of the rheumatics in my back,” said the Sergeant, in a loud voice, as if he wanted some third person to hear us. “We shall have a change in the weather before long.” A few steps further brought us to the corner of the house. Turning off sharp to the right, we entered on the terrace, and went down, by the steps in the middle, into the garden below. Sergeant Cuff stopped there, in the open space, where we could see round us on every side. But, for the girl’s own sake, I must ask you at once whether SHE has provided herself with a sweetheart, poor wretch, like the rest of them?” What on earth did he mean, under present circumstances, by putting such a question to me as that?

If there isn’t--as things are in this house--the hiding is a highly suspicious circumstance, and it will be my painful duty to act on it accordingly.” What, in God’s name, was I to say to him? Franklin’s favourite walk; I knew he would most likely turn that way when he came back from the station; I knew that Penelope had over and over again caught her fellow-servant hanging about there, and had always declared to me that Rosanna’s object was to attract Mr. I was put between the two difficulties of mentioning Penelope’s fanciful notion as if it was mine, or of leaving an unfortunate creature to suffer the consequences, the very serious consequences, of exciting the suspicion of Sergeant Cuff. Out of pure pity for the girl--on my soul and my character, out of pure pity for the girl--I gave the Sergeant the necessary explanations, and told him that Rosanna had been mad enough to set her heart on Mr. “Hadn’t you better say she’s mad enough to be an ugly girl and only a servant?” he asked. Franklin Blake’s manners and appearance doesn’t seem to me to be the maddest part of her conduct by any means.

However, I’m glad the thing is cleared up: it relieves one’s mind to have things cleared up. I like to be tender to human infirmity--though I don’t get many chances of exercising that virtue in my line of life. The ugly women have a bad time of it in this world; let’s hope it will be made up to them in another. It goes to my heart to break them off the stem. Just as it goes to your heart, you know, when there’s something wrong in the servants’ hall.

In plain English, I didn’t at all relish the notion of helping his inquiries, when those inquiries took him (in the capacity of snake in the grass) among my fellow-servants. “I noticed nothing,” I said, “except that we all lost our heads together, myself included.” “Oh,” says the Sergeant, “that’s all you have to tell me, is it?” I answered, with (as I flattered myself) an unmoved countenance, “That is all.” Sergeant Cuff’s dismal eyes looked me hard in the face. Betteredge,” he said, “have you any objection to oblige me by shaking hands? I have taken an extraordinary liking to you.” (Why he should have chosen the exact moment when I was deceiving him to give me that proof of his good opinion, is beyond all comprehension! I felt a little proud--I really did feel a little proud of having been one too many at last for the celebrated Cuff!) We went back to the house; the Sergeant requesting that I would give him a room to himself, and then send in the servants (the indoor servants only), one after another, in the order of their rank, from first to last.

I showed Sergeant Cuff into my own room, and then called the servants together in the hall. She was as quick in her way as the Sergeant in his, and I suspect she had heard what he said to me about the servants in general, just before he discovered her. The cook was the first to enter the Court of Justice, otherwise my room. Report, on coming out: “If Sergeant Cuff doesn’t believe a respectable woman, he might keep his opinion to himself, at any rate!” Penelope went next. Report, on coming out: “Sergeant Cuff is much to be pitied. Betteredge, to be doubted to my face by a low police-officer!” Rosanna Spearman went next. Report, on coming out: “Whoever blacks Sergeant Cuff’s boots ought to be ashamed of himself.” Nancy, the kitchen-maid, went last. Betteredge, with a poor hard-working girl.” Going into the Court of Justice, when it was all over, to hear if there were any further commands for me, I found the Sergeant at his old trick--looking out of window, and whistling “The Last Rose of Summer” to himself. “If Rosanna Spearman asks leave to go out,” said the Sergeant, “let the poor thing go; but let me know first.” I might as well have held my tongue about Rosanna and Mr.

It was plain enough; the unfortunate girl had fallen under Sergeant Cuff’s suspicions, in spite of all I could do to prevent it. “I hope you don’t think Rosanna is concerned in the loss of the Diamond?” I ventured to say. “You might lose your head, you know, for the second time.” I began to doubt whether I had been one too many for the celebrated Cuff, after all! It was rather a relief to me that we were interrupted here by a knock at the door, and a message from the cook. Rosanna Spearman HAD asked to go out, for the usual reason, that her head was bad, and she wanted a breath of fresh air. Left alone, under those circumstances, a devouring curiosity pushed me on to make some discoveries for myself. Reaching these conclusions, I looked in on them, casually as it might be, in the servants’ hall, and, finding tea going forward, instantly invited myself to that meal. (For, NOTA BENE, a drop of tea is to a woman’s tongue what a drop of oil is to a wasting lamp.) My reliance on the tea-pot, as an ally, did not go unrewarded.

These two devils--I ask your pardon; but how else CAN you describe a couple of spiteful women?--had stolen up-stairs, at intervals during the Thursday afternoon; had tried Rosanna’s door, and found it locked; had knocked, and not been answered; had listened, and not heard a sound inside. When the girl had come down to tea, and had been sent up, still out of sorts, to bed again, the two devils aforesaid had tried her door once more, and found it locked; had looked at the keyhole, and found it stopped up; had seen a light under the door at midnight, and had heard the crackling of a fire (a fire in a servant’s bed-room in the month of June!) at four in the morning. All this they had told Sergeant Cuff, who, in return for their anxiety to enlighten him, had eyed them with sour and suspicious looks, and had shown them plainly that he didn’t believe either one or the other. Hence, also (without reckoning the influence of the tea-pot), their readiness to let their tongues run to any length on the subject of the Sergeant’s ungracious behaviour to them. Having had some experience of the great Cuff’s round-about ways, and having last seen him evidently bent on following Rosanna privately when she went out for her walk, it seemed clear to me that he had thought it unadvisable to let the lady’s maid and the housemaid know how materially they had helped him. They were just the sort of women, if he had treated their evidence as trustworthy, to have been puffed up by it, and to have said or done something which would have put Rosanna Spearman on her guard. Drifting towards the shrubbery, some time later, there I met Mr. She had told him of Miss Rachel’s unaccountable refusal to let her wardrobe be examined; and had put him in such low spirits about my young lady that he seemed to shrink from speaking on the subject.

Do you remember that morning when I first came here with the Moonstone?

I wish to God we had thrown it into the quicksand!” After breaking out in that way, he abstained from speaking again until he had composed himself. It was impossible to put Mr. I told him exactly what had happened, mentioning particularly what my lady’s maid and the house-maid had said about Rosanna Spearman. “Didn’t you tell me this morning,” he said, “that one of the tradespeople declared he had met Rosanna yesterday, on the footway to Frizinghall, when we supposed her to be ill in her room?” “Yes, sir.” “If my aunt’s maid and the other woman have spoken the truth, you may depend upon it the tradesman did meet her. The girl’s attack of illness was a blind to deceive us. She had some guilty reason for going to the town secretly. The paint-stained dress is a dress of hers; and the fire heard crackling in her room at four in the morning was a fire lit to destroy it. Rosanna Spearman has stolen the Diamond.

We both turned about, and found ourselves face to face with Sergeant Cuff. “Do you think it’s wise, sir,” said Sergeant Cuff, quietly, “to put such a question as that to me--at such a time as this?” There was a moment’s silence between them: Mr. Franklin walked close up to the Sergeant. “I am to understand that you forbid me to tell my aunt what has happened?” “You are to understand, if you please, sir, that I throw up the case, if you tell Lady Verinder, or tell anybody, what has happened, until I give you leave.” That settled it. Franklin had no choice but to submit.

I had stood there listening to them, all in a tremble; not knowing whom to suspect, or what to think next. In the midst of my confusion, two things, however, were plain to me. First, that my young lady was, in some unaccountable manner, at the bottom of the sharp speeches that had passed between them. Second, that they thoroughly understood each other, without having previously exchanged a word of explanation on either side. For the future, perhaps you will be so obliging as to do your detective business along with me.” He took me by the arm, and walked me away with him along the road by which he had come. I dare say I had deserved his reproof--but I was not going to help him to set traps for Rosanna Spearman, for all that. “What do you want of me?” I asked, shaking him off, and stopping short. I couldn’t well object to improve Sergeant Cuff in his geography. “Is there any path, in that direction, leading to the sea-beach from this house?” asked the Sergeant.

He pointed, as he spoke, to the fir-plantation which led to the Shivering Sand. “Yes,” I said, “there is a path.” “Show it to me.” Side by side, in the grey of the summer evening, Sergeant Cuff and I set forth for the Shivering Sand. CHAPTER XV The Sergeant remained silent, thinking his own thoughts, till we entered the plantation of firs which led to the quicksand. There he roused himself, like a man whose mind was made up, and spoke to me again. Betteredge,” he said, “as you have honoured me by taking an oar in my boat, and as you may, I think, be of some assistance to me before the evening is out, I see no use in our mystifying one another any longer, and I propose to set you an example of plain speaking on my side. You are determined to give me no information to the prejudice of Rosanna Spearman, because she has been a good girl to YOU, and because you pity her heartily. Those humane considerations do you a world of credit, but they happen in this instance to be humane considerations clean thrown away. Rosanna Spearman is not in the slightest danger of getting into trouble--no, not if I fix her with being concerned in the disappearance of the Diamond, on evidence which is as plain as the nose on your face!” “Do you mean that my lady won’t prosecute?” I asked. Betteredge?” “No.” Sergeant Cuff stood stock still, and surveyed me with a look of melancholy interest. “It’s always a pleasure to me to be tender towards human infirmity,” he said.

Betteredge, towards you. And you, with the same excellent motive, feel particularly tender towards Rosanna Spearman, don’t you? Do you happen to know whether she has had a new outfit of linen lately?” What he meant by slipping in this extraordinary question unawares, I was at a total loss to imagine.

Seeing no possible injury to Rosanna if I owned the truth, I answered that the girl had come to us rather sparely provided with linen, and that my lady, in recompense for her good conduct (I laid a stress on her good conduct), had given her a new outfit not a fortnight since. You’re not at a loss to follow me, are you? At eleven, on Thursday morning, Superintendent Seegrave (who is a mass of human infirmity) points out to all the women servants the smear on the door. Rosanna has her own reasons for suspecting her own things; she takes the first opportunity of getting to her room, finds the paint-stain on her night-gown, or petticoat, or what not, shams ill and slips away to the town, gets the materials for making a new petticoat or nightgown, makes it alone in her room on the Thursday night lights a fire (not to destroy it; two of her fellow-servants are prying outside her door, and she knows better than to make a smell of burning, and to have a lot of tinder to get rid of)--lights a fire, I say, to dry and iron the substitute dress after wringing it out, keeps the stained dress hidden (probably ON her), and is at this moment occupied in making away with it, in some convenient place, on that lonely bit of beach ahead of us. I have traced her this evening to your fishing village, and to one particular cottage, which we may possibly have to visit, before we go back. She stopped in the cottage for some time, and she came out with (as I believe) something hidden under her cloak. If you happen to be following another person along your sea-coast, and if that person happens to look round, there isn’t a scrap of cover to hide you anywhere. I had to choose between taking Rosanna in custody on suspicion, or leaving her, for the time being, with her little game in her own hands. For reasons which I won’t trouble you with, I decided on making any sacrifice rather than give the alarm as soon as to-night to a certain person who shall be nameless between us.

I came back to the house to ask you to take me to the north end of the beach by another way. If you will excuse my suggesting it--suppose you hold your tongue, and let me go first?” If there is such a thing known at the doctor’s shop as a DETECTIVE-FEVER, that disease had now got fast hold of your humble servant.

Sergeant Cuff went on between the hillocks of sand, down to the beach. I followed him (with my heart in my mouth); and waited at a little distance for what was to happen next. As it turned out, I found myself standing nearly in the same place where Rosanna Spearman and I had been talking together when Mr.

While my eyes were watching the Sergeant, my mind wandered away in spite of me to what had passed, on that former occasion, between Rosanna and me. I declare I almost felt the poor thing slip her hand again into mine, and give it a little grateful squeeze to thank me for speaking kindly to her. I declare I almost heard her voice telling me again that the Shivering Sand seemed to draw her to it against her own will, whenever she went out--almost saw her face brighten again, as it brightened when she first set eyes upon Mr. My spirits fell lower and lower as I thought of these things--and the view of the lonesome little bay, when I looked about to rouse myself, only served to make me feel more uneasy still.

The inner sea lay lost and dim, without a breath of wind to stir it. Scum and slime shone faintly in certain places, where the last of the light still caught them on the two great spits of rock jutting out, north and south, into the sea. It was now the time of the turn of the tide: and even as I stood there waiting, the broad brown face of the quicksand began to dimple and quiver--the only moving thing in all the horrid place. After looking at it for a minute or so, he turned and came back to me. Betteredge,” he said; “and no signs of Rosanna Spearman anywhere on the beach, look where you may.” He took me down lower on the shore, and I saw for myself that his footsteps and mine were the only footsteps printed off on the sand. “Consequently, she must have been walking towards this place. And can we get to it--now it’s low water--by the beach?” I answered, “Yes,” to both those questions. “I want to find the place where she left the shore, before it gets dark.” We had walked, I should say, a couple of hundred yards towards Cobb’s Hole, when Sergeant Cuff suddenly went down on his knees on the beach, to all appearance seized with a sudden frenzy for saying his prayers. “There’s something to be said for your marine landscape here, after all,” remarked the Sergeant.

Let us call them Rosanna’s footsteps, until we find evidence to the contrary that we can’t resist. Very confused footsteps, you will please to observe--purposely confused, I should say. But hasn’t she been in rather too great a hurry to tread out the marks thoroughly?

Here’s one footstep going FROM Cobb’s Hole; and here is another going back to it. Isn’t that the toe of her shoe pointing straight to the water’s edge? I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I’m afraid Rosanna is sly. It looks as if she had determined to get to that place you and I have just come from, without leaving any marks on the sand to trace her by.

Shall we say that she walked through the water from this point till she got to that ledge of rocks behind us, and came back the same way, and then took to the beach again where those two heel marks are still left? It seems to fit in with my notion that she had something under her cloak, when she left the cottage. not something to destroy--for, in that case, where would have been the need of all these precautions to prevent my tracing the place at which her walk ended? Something to hide is, I think, the better guess of the two. Perhaps, if we go on to the cottage, we may find out what that something is?” At this proposal, my detective-fever suddenly cooled.

If I go alone to the cottage, the people’s tongues will be tied at the first question I put to them. It strikes me in that light; how does it strike you?” Not having an answer of the needful smartness as ready as I could have wished, I tried to gain time by asking him what cottage he wanted to go to. If you will look back, you will find that, in first presenting Rosanna Spearman to your notice, I have described her as occasionally varying her walk to the Shivering Sand, by a visit to some friends of hers at Cobb’s Hole. Those friends were the Yollands--respectable, worthy people, a credit to the neighbourhood. Anyway, the Yollands and Rosanna always appeared to get on together, at the few chances they had of meeting, in a pleasant and friendly manner. The fact of Sergeant Cuff having traced the girl to THEIR cottage, set the matter of my helping his inquiries in quite a new light.

Rosanna had merely gone where she was in the habit of going; and to show that she had been in company with the fisherman and his family was as good as to prove that she had been innocently occupied so far, at any rate. It would be doing the girl a service, therefore, instead of an injury, if I allowed myself to be convinced by Sergeant Cuff’s logic. We went on to Cobb’s Hole, seeing the footsteps on the sand, as long as the light lasted. On reaching the cottage, the fisherman and his son proved to be out in the boat; and Limping Lucy, always weak and weary, was resting on her bed up-stairs. I sat quiet in a corner, waiting to hear how the Sergeant would find his way to the subject of Rosanna Spearman.

His usual roundabout manner of going to work proved, on this occasion, to be more roundabout than ever. But this is certain, he began with the Royal Family, the Primitive Methodists, and the price of fish; and he got from that (in his dismal, underground way) to the loss of the Moonstone, the spitefulness of our first house-maid, and the hard behaviour of the women-servants generally towards Rosanna Spearman. Having reached his subject in this fashion, he described himself as making his inquiries about the lost Diamond, partly with a view to find it, and partly for the purpose of clearing Rosanna from the unjust suspicions of her enemies in the house. Yolland was persuaded that she was talking to Rosanna’s best friend, and was pressing Sergeant Cuff to comfort his stomach and revive his spirits out of the Dutch bottle. Being firmly persuaded that the Sergeant was wasting his breath to no purpose on Mrs. Everything to Rosanna’s credit, nothing to Rosanna’s prejudice--that was how it ended, try as he might; with Mrs. Yolland talking nineteen to the dozen, and placing the most entire confidence in him.

His last effort was made, when we had looked at our watches, and had got on our legs previous to taking leave. she will never get on in her present place; and my advice to her is--leave it.” “Bless your heart alive! she is GOING to leave it!” cries Mrs. Yolland out of the Yorkshire language into the English language. When I tell you that the all-accomplished Cuff was every now and then puzzled to understand her until I helped him, you will draw your own conclusions as to what your state of mind would be if I reported her in her native tongue.) Rosanna Spearman going to leave us! It seemed strange, to say the least of it, that she should have given no warning, in the first place, to my lady or to me. I began to question whether my share in the proceedings was quite as harmless a one as I had thought it. It might be all in the way of the Sergeant’s business to mystify an honest woman by wrapping her round in a network of lies but it was my duty to have remembered, as a good Protestant, that the father of lies is the Devil--and that mischief and the Devil are never far apart. Beginning to smell mischief in the air, I tried to take Sergeant Cuff out. Mrs Yolland sat down opposite to him, and gave him his nip.

I went on to the door, excessively uncomfortable, and said I thought I must bid them good-night--and yet I didn’t go. “So she means to leave?” says the Sergeant. “What is she to do when she does leave? “She came in here, as I told you, this evening; and, after sitting and talking a little with my girl Lucy and me she asked to go up-stairs by herself, into Lucy’s room. ‘I want to write a letter to a friend,’ she says ‘and I can’t do it for the prying and peeping of the servants up at the house.’ Who the letter was written to I can’t tell you: it must have been a mortal long one, judging by the time she stopped up-stairs over it. But a friend she has got somewhere, I can tell you; and to that friend you may depend upon it, she will go.” “Soon?” asked the Sergeant. As chief of my lady’s establishment, I couldn’t allow this sort of loose talk about a servant of ours going, or not going, to proceed any longer in my presence, without noticing it. “If she had been going to leave her present situation, she would have mentioned it, in the first place, to me.” “Mistaken?” cries Mrs. And that reminds me,” says the wearisome woman, suddenly beginning to feel in her pocket, “of something I have got it on my mind to say about Rosanna and her money.

Are you either of you likely to see her when you go back to the house?” “I’ll take a message to the poor thing, with the greatest pleasure,” answered Sergeant Cuff, before I could put in a word edgewise. She offered the money to the Sergeant, looking mighty loth to part with it all the while. “Might I ask you to give this back to Rosanna, with my love and respects?” says Mrs. “She insisted on paying me for the one or two things she took a fancy to this evening--and money’s welcome enough in our house, I don’t deny it. And to tell you the truth, I don’t think my man would like to hear that I had taken Rosanna Spearman’s money, when he comes back to-morrow morning from his work. Please say she’s heartily welcome to the things she bought of me--as a gift.

For times are hard, and flesh is weak; and I MIGHT feel tempted to put it back in my pocket again.” “Come along!” I said, “I can’t wait any longer: I must go back to the house.” “I’ll follow you directly,” says Sergeant Cuff. For the second time, I went to the door; and, for the second time, try as I might, I couldn’t cross the threshold. “Come and judge for yourself.” She took up the candle and led the Sergeant to a corner of the kitchen. Shaken down in the corner was a heap of odds and ends (mostly old metal), which the fisherman had picked up at different times from wrecked ships, and which he hadn’t found a market for yet, to his own mind.

Yolland dived into this rubbish, and brought up an old japanned tin case, with a cover to it, and a hasp to hang it up by--the sort of thing they use, on board ship, for keeping their maps and charts, and such-like, from the wet. “When Rosanna came in this evening, she bought the fellow to that. ‘It will just do,’ she says, ‘to put my cuffs and collars in, and keep them from being crumpled in my box.’ One and ninepence, Mr. He had made another discovery to the prejudice of Rosanna Spearman, in the place of all others where I thought her character was safest, and all through me! I leave you to imagine what I felt, and how sincerely I repented having been the medium of introduction between Mrs. “We really must go.” Without paying the least attention to me, Mrs.

Yolland took another dive into the rubbish, and came up out of it, this time, with a dog-chain. “Weigh it in your hand, sir,” she said to the Sergeant. ‘If I join them together they’ll do round my box nicely,’ says she. Cuff--good as gold, and kinder than a sister to my Lucy--but always a little strange. “Both together!” says Mrs. Yolland, getting back sideways to the little heap of silver on the table, as if it drew her in spite of herself. “The tin case and the dog chains were all she bought, and all she took away. One and ninepence and three and sixpence--total, five and three.

With my love and respects--and I can’t find it in my conscience to take a poor girl’s savings, when she may want them herself.” “I can’t find it in MY conscience, ma’am, to give the money back,” says Sergeant Cuff.

With these words, she appeared to lose all command over herself; and, making a sudden snatch at the heap of silver, put it back, holus-bolus, in her pocket.

“It upsets one’s temper, it does, to see it lying there, and nobody taking it,” cries this unreasonable woman, sitting down with a thump, and looking at Sergeant Cuff, as much as to say, “It’s in my pocket again now--get it out if you can!” This time, I not only went to the door, but went fairly out on the road back. “I am indebted to the fisherman’s wife for an entirely new sensation. Yolland has puzzled me.” It was on the tip of my tongue to have given him a sharp answer, for no better reason than this--that I was out of temper with him, because I was out of temper with myself. But when he owned to being puzzled, a comforting doubt crossed my mind whether any great harm had been done after all.

I waited in discreet silence to hear more. “Instead of putting me on the scent, it may console you to know, Mr. What the girl has done, to-night, is clear enough, of course. She has joined the two chains, and has fastened them to the hasp in the tin case. She has made the loose end of the chain fast to some place under the rocks, known only to herself. And she will leave the case secure at its anchorage till the present proceedings have come to an end; after which she can privately pull it up again out of its hiding-place, at her own leisure and convenience.

But,” says the Sergeant, with the first tone of impatience in his voice that I had heard yet, “the mystery is--what the devil has she hidden in the tin case?” I thought to myself, “The Moonstone!” But I only said to Sergeant Cuff, “Can’t you guess?” “It’s not the Diamond,” says the Sergeant. “The whole experience of my life is at fault, if Rosanna Spearman has got the Diamond.” On hearing those words, the infernal detective-fever began, I suppose, to burn in me again. I said rashly, “The stained dress!” Sergeant Cuff stopped short in the dark, and laid his hand on my arm. “Is anything thrown into that quicksand of yours, ever thrown up on the surface again?” he asked. “Light or heavy whatever goes into the Shivering Sand is sucked down, and seen no more.” “Does Rosanna Spearman know that?” “She knows it as well as I do.” “Then,” says the Sergeant, “what on earth has she got to do but to tie up a bit of stone in the stained dress and throw it into the quicksand? Betteredge, if nothing occurs to prevent it, I must go to Frizinghall to-morrow, and discover what she bought in the town, when she privately got the materials for making the substitute dress.

It’s a risk to leave the house, as things are now--but it’s a worse risk still to stir another step in this matter in the dark. She had gone up-stairs to take off her bonnet and cloak--and she was now at supper quietly with the rest.

Without making any remark, Sergeant Cuff walked on, sinking lower and lower in his own estimation, to the back of the house. Missing the entrance in the dark, he went on (in spite of my calling to him) till he was stopped by a wicket-gate which led into the garden. When I joined him to bring him back by the right way, I found that he was looking up attentively at one particular window, on the bed-room floor, at the back of the house.

I replied that it was, and invited him to go in with me to supper. I left him to his enjoyment. And my young lady’s window was at the bottom of it this time!

The latter reflection took me back again to the Sergeant, with a polite intimation that I could not find it in my heart to leave him by himself. “Is there anything you don’t understand up there?” I added, pointing to Miss Rachel’s window.

Judging by his voice, Sergeant Cuff had suddenly risen again to the right place in his own estimation. Betteredge, that your young lady has suddenly resolved to leave the house. If I won on that event, I should offer to lay another sovereign, that the idea has occurred to her within the last hour.” The first of the Sergeant’s guesses startled me. The two together had a curious effect on me as we went in to supper. I shook off Sergeant Cuff’s arm, and, forgetting my manners, pushed by him through the door to make my own inquiries for myself. “Her ladyship is waiting to see you and Sergeant Cuff,” he said, before I could put any questions to him. Rosanna had come back; Miss Rachel had taken some resolution out of the common; and my lady had been waiting to see the Sergeant--all within the last hour! It was not pleasant to find these very different persons and things linking themselves together in this way. I went on upstairs, without looking at Sergeant Cuff, or speaking to him. My hand took a sudden fit of trembling as I lifted it to knock at my mistress’s door.

“I shouldn’t be surprised,” whispered the Sergeant over my shoulder, “if a scandal was to burst up in the house to-night. I have put the muzzle on worse family difficulties than this, in my time.” As he said the words I heard my mistress’s voice calling to us to come in. The shade was screwed down so as to overshadow her face. “Officer,” she said, “is it important to the inquiry you are conducting, to know beforehand if any person now in this house wishes to leave it?” “Most important, my lady.” “I have to tell you, then, that Miss Verinder proposes going to stay with her aunt, Mrs. She has arranged to leave us the first thing to-morrow morning.” Sergeant Cuff looked at me. I made a step forward to speak to my mistress--and, feeling my heart fail me (if I must own it), took a step back again, and said nothing. “May I ask your ladyship WHEN Miss Verinder informed you that she was going to her aunt’s?” inquired the Sergeant.

“I have no claim, my lady,” says the Sergeant, “to control Miss Verinder’s actions. All I can ask you to do is to put off her departure, if possible, till later in the day. I must go to Frizinghall myself to-morrow morning--and I shall be back by two o’clock, if not before. If Miss Verinder can be kept here till that time, I should wish to say two words to her--unexpectedly--before she goes.” My lady directed me to give the coachman her orders, that the carriage was not to come for Miss Rachel until two o’clock. “Have you more to say?” she asked of the Sergeant, when this had been done. If Miss Verinder is surprised at this change in the arrangements, please not to mention Me as being the cause of putting off her journey.” My mistress lifted her head suddenly from her book as if she was going to say something--checked herself by a great effort--and, looking back again at the open page, dismissed us with a sign of her hand. Betteredge, would have been at an end to-night.” At those words, the truth rushed at last into my stupid old head. Please to remember, as some excuse for my breaking out as I did, that I had served the family for fifty years. Miss Rachel, with all her faults, had been, to my mind, the dearest and prettiest and best young mistress that ever an old servant waited on, and loved. Betteredge,” says the Sergeant, with more kindness than I had any right to expect from him.

“In my line of life if we were quick at taking offence, we shouldn’t be worth salt to our porridge. If it’s any comfort to you, collar me again. You don’t in the least know how to do it; but I’ll overlook your awkwardness in consideration of your feelings.” He curled up at the corners of his lips, and, in his own dreary way, seemed to think he had delivered himself of a very good joke. I led him into my own little sitting-room, and closed the door. It’s no kindness to hide it from me now.” “I don’t suspect,” said Sergeant Cuff. “I know.” My unlucky temper began to get the better of me again. “Do you mean to tell me, in plain English,” I said, “that Miss Rachel has stolen her own Diamond?” “Yes,” says the Sergeant; “that is what I mean to tell you, in so many words. Miss Verinder has been in secret possession of the Moonstone from first to last; and she has taken Rosanna Spearman into her confidence, because she has calculated on our suspecting Rosanna Spearman of the theft. If it’s any vent to your feelings, collar me again.” God help me! my feelings were not to be relieved in that way.

“Give me your reasons!” That was all I could say to him. “You shall hear my reasons to-morrow,” said the Sergeant. “If Miss Verinder refuses to put off her visit to her aunt (which you will find Miss Verinder will do), I shall be obliged to lay the whole case before your mistress to-morrow. And, as I don’t know what may come of it, I shall request you to be present, and to hear what passes on both sides. Let the matter rest for to-night. Betteredge, you don’t get a word more on the subject of the Moonstone out of me. ‘For what we are going to receive----’” “I wish you a good appetite to it, Sergeant,” I said. I’ll wait and see you served, and then I’ll ask you to excuse me, if I go away, and try to get the better of this by myself.” I saw him served with the best of everything--and I shouldn’t have been sorry if the best of everything had choked him. I left the two together, and went out with a heavy heart. This was the first trouble I remember for many a long year which wasn’t to be blown off by a whiff of tobacco, and which was even beyond the reach of ROBINSON CRUSOE.

Being restless and miserable, and having no particular room to go to, I took a turn on the terrace, and thought it over in peace and quietness by myself. I felt wretchedly old, and worn out, and unfit for my place--and began to wonder, for the first time in my life, when it would please God to take me. With all this, I held firm, notwithstanding, to my belief in Miss Rachel. If Sergeant Cuff had been Solomon in all his glory, and had told me that my young lady had mixed herself up in a mean and guilty plot, I should have had but one answer for Solomon, wise as he was, “You don’t know her; and I do.” My meditations were interrupted by Samuel. Going into the house to get a light to read it by, Samuel remarked that there seemed a change coming in the weather. The message from my lady informed me, that the magistrate at Frizinghall had written to remind her about the three Indians. Early in the coming week, the rogues must needs be released, and left free to follow their own devices. If we had any more questions to ask them, there was no time to lose. Having forgotten to mention this, when she had last seen Sergeant Cuff, my mistress now desired me to supply the omission.

The Sergeant was so deeply interested that he held up his hand, and signed to me not to interrupt the discussion, when I came in. As far as I could understand it, the question between them was, whether the white moss rose did, or did not, require to be budded on the dog-rose to make it grow well.

They appealed to me, as hotly as a couple of boys. Knowing nothing whatever about the growing of roses, I steered a middle course--just as her Majesty’s judges do, when the scales of justice bother them by hanging even to a hair. “Gentlemen,” I remarked, “there is much to be said on both sides.” In the temporary lull produced by that impartial sentence, I laid my lady’s written message on the table, under the eyes of Sergeant Cuff.

I had got by this time, as nearly as might be, to hate the Sergeant. But truth compels me to acknowledge that, in respect of readiness of mind, he was a wonderful man.

In half a minute after he had read the message, he had looked back into his memory for Superintendent Seegrave’s report; had picked out that part of it in which the Indians were concerned; and was ready with his answer. A certain great traveller, who understood the Indians and their language, had figured in Mr. Much obliged to me. Sergeant Cuff would look that gentleman up, when he went to Frizinghall in the morning. “Do you expect anything to come of it?” I asked. “Superintendent Seegrave found the Indians as innocent as the babe unborn.” “Superintendent Seegrave has been proved wrong, up to this time, in all his conclusions,” answered the Sergeant. “It may be worth while to find out to-morrow whether Superintendent Seegrave was wrong about the Indians as well.” With that he turned to Mr. Begbie, and took up the argument again exactly at the place where it had left off. Now let me put it to you from another point of view. She was waiting for her young lady’s bell, when her young lady chose to call her back to go on with the packing for the next day’s journey.

Further inquiry revealed to me, that Miss Rachel had given it as a reason for wanting to go to her aunt at Frizinghall, that the house was unendurable to her, and that she could bear the odious presence of a policeman under the same roof with herself no longer. On being informed, half an hour since, that her departure would be delayed till two in the afternoon, she had flown into a violent passion. My lady, present at the time, had severely rebuked her, and then (having apparently something to say, which was reserved for her daughter’s private ear) had sent Penelope out of the room. “Nothing goes right, father; nothing is like what it used to be. I feel as if some dreadful misfortune was hanging over us all.” That was my feeling too. Penelope ran up the back stairs to go on with the packing.

I went by the other way to the hall, to see what the glass said about the change in the weather. Just as I approached the swing-door leading into the hall from the servants’ offices, it was violently opened from the other side, and Rosanna Spearman ran by me, with a miserable look of pain in her face, and one of her hands pressed hard over her heart, as if the pang was in that quarter. “What’s the matter, my girl?” I asked, stopping her. “Are you ill?” “For God’s sake, don’t speak to me,” she answered, and twisted herself out of my hands, and ran on towards the servants’ staircase. I called to the cook (who was within hearing) to look after the poor girl. Two other persons proved to be within hearing, as well as the cook.

Franklin, on the other side, pulled open the swing-door, and beckoning me into the hall, inquired if I had seen anything of Rosanna Spearman. Franklin; “but, if the girl IS concerned in the loss of the Diamond, I do really believe she was on the point of confessing everything--to me, of all the people in the world--not two minutes since.” Looking towards the swing-door, as he said those last words, I fancied I saw it opened a little way from the inner side. The door fell to, before I could get to it. Under those circumstances, it was quite in his character to help himself, and to do it by the underground way.

Not feeling sure that I had really seen the Sergeant--and not desiring to make needless mischief, where, Heaven knows, there was mischief enough going on already--I told Mr.

Franklin that I thought one of the dogs had got into the house--and then begged him to describe what had happened between Rosanna and himself.

“Did you meet her accidentally, when she spoke to you?” Mr.

Franklin pointed to the billiard-table.

“I was knocking the balls about,” he said, “and trying to get this miserable business of the Diamond out of my mind. I happened to look up--and there stood Rosanna Spearman at the side of me, like a ghost! Her stealing on me in that way was so strange, that I hardly knew what to do at first. Seeing a very anxious expression in her face, I asked her if she wished to speak to me. She answered, ‘Yes, if I dare.’ Knowing what suspicion attached to her, I could only put one construction on such language as that. I had no wish to invite the girl’s confidence. At the same time, in the difficulties that now beset us, I could hardly feel justified in refusing to listen to her, if she was really bent on speaking to me. I said to her, ‘I don’t quite understand you. Is there anything you want me to do?’ Mind, Betteredge, I didn’t speak unkindly!

The cue was still in my hand, and I went on knocking the balls about, to take off the awkwardness of the thing. ‘Anything rather than look at me!’ Before I could stop her, she had left the hall. I have been a little hard on her, perhaps, in my own thoughts--I have almost hoped that the loss of the Diamond might be traced to her. Not from any ill-will to the poor girl: but----” He stopped there, and going back to the billiard-table, began to knock the balls about once more. Nothing but the tracing of the Moonstone to our second housemaid could now raise Miss Rachel above the infamous suspicion that rested on her in the mind of Sergeant Cuff. If Rosanna had done nothing to compromise herself, the hope which Mr.

Franklin confessed to having felt would have been hard enough on her in all conscience. She had pretended to be ill, and had gone secretly to Frizinghall. And she had been at the Shivering Sand, that evening, under circumstances which were highly suspicious, to say the least of them. I said a word to him to that effect. Tell the poor creature what I told you to tell her.

And if she wants to speak to me--I don’t care whether I get into a scrape or not--send her to me in the library.” With those kind words he laid down the cue and left me. Inquiry at the servants’ offices informed me that Rosanna had retired to her own room. She had declined all offers of assistance with thanks, and had only asked to be left to rest in quiet. Here, therefore, was an end of any confession on her part (supposing she really had a confession to make) for that night.

I reported the result to Mr. Franklin, who, thereupon, left the library, and went up to bed. The argument about the white moss rose had apparently come to an end at last. The gardener had gone home, and Sergeant Cuff was nowhere to be found in the lower regions of the house.

I looked into my room. Quite true--nothing was to be discovered there but a couple of empty tumblers and a strong smell of hot grog. Had the Sergeant gone of his own accord to the bed-chamber that was prepared for him? I went up-stairs to see. My left-hand side led to the corridor which communicated with Miss Rachel’s room.

“And mind, if you ever take to growing roses, the white moss rose is all the better for not being budded on the dog-rose, whatever the gardener may say to the contrary!” “What are you doing here?” I asked. There was a coincidence, this evening, between the period of Rosanna Spearman’s return from the Sands and the period when Miss Verinder stated her resolution to leave the house. Whatever Rosanna may have hidden, it’s clear to my mind that your young lady couldn’t go away until she knew that it WAS hidden. The two must have communicated privately once already to-night. If they try to communicate again, when the house is quiet, I want to be in the way, and stop it.

Betteredge--blame the Diamond.” “I wish to God the Diamond had never found its way into this house!” I broke out. Sergeant Cuff looked with a rueful face at the three chairs on which he had condemned himself to pass the night. CHAPTER XVII Nothing happened in the night; and (I am happy to add) no attempt at communication between Miss Rachel and Rosanna rewarded the vigilance of Sergeant Cuff. I had expected the Sergeant to set off for Frizinghall the first thing in the morning. He waited about, however, as if he had something else to do first. I left him to his own devices; and going into the grounds shortly after, met Mr. He made up to Mr.

“Have you anything to say to me?” was all the return he got for politely wishing Mr. “I have something to say to you, sir,” answered the Sergeant, “on the subject of the inquiry I am conducting here. “I want to remind you, sir, that I have at any rate, thus far, not been PROVED to be wrong. Bearing that in mind, be pleased to remember, at the same time, that I am an officer of the law acting here under the sanction of the mistress of the house. Under these circumstances, is it, or is it not, your duty as a good citizen, to assist me with any special information which you may happen to possess?” “I possess no special information,” says Mr. “You may save my time, sir, from being wasted on an inquiry at a distance,” he went on, “if you choose to understand me and speak out.” “I don’t understand you,” answered Mr. Franklin; “and I have nothing to say.” “One of the female servants (I won’t mention names) spoke to you privately, sir, last night.” Once more Mr. Franklin answered, “I have nothing to say.” Standing by in silence, I thought of the movement in the swing-door on the previous evening, and of the coat-tails which I had seen disappearing down the passage. Sergeant Cuff had, no doubt, just heard enough, before I interrupted him, to make him suspect that Rosanna had relieved her mind by confessing something to Mr. She was followed by Penelope, who was evidently trying to make her retrace her steps to the house.

Franklin was not alone, Rosanna came to a standstill, evidently in great perplexity what to do next. The Sergeant, with his devilish cunning, took on not to have noticed them at all. “You needn’t be afraid of harming the girl, sir,” he said to Mr. “On the contrary, I recommend you to honour me with your confidence, if you feel any interest in Rosanna Spearman.” Mr. Franklin instantly took on not to have noticed the girls either. He answered, speaking loudly on his side: “I take no interest whatever in Rosanna Spearman.” I looked towards the end of the walk. Instead of resisting Penelope, as she had done the moment before, she now let my daughter take her by the arm and lead her back to the house. The breakfast-bell rang as the two girls disappeared--and even Sergeant Cuff was now obliged to give it up as a bad job! He said to me quietly, “I shall go to Frizinghall, Mr. Franklin said to me, when we were alone.

“I seem to be fated to say or do something awkward, before that unlucky girl. If he could confuse ME, or irritate HER into breaking out, either she or I might have said something which would answer his purpose. On the spur of the moment, I saw no better way out of it than the way I took. It stopped the girl from saying anything, and it showed the Sergeant that I saw through him. He was evidently listening, Betteredge, when I was speaking to you last night.” He had done worse than listen, as I privately thought to myself. Franklin; and he had calculated on THAT, when he appealed to Mr. “As to listening, sir,” I remarked (keeping the other point to myself), “we shall all be rowing in the same boat if this sort of thing goes on much longer. Franklin, we shall all be struck dumb together--for this reason, that we shall all be listening to surprise each other’s secrets, and all know it. The horrid mystery hanging over us in this house gets into my head like liquor, and makes me wild.

I won’t forget what you have told me. I’ll take the first opportunity of making it right with Rosanna Spearman.” “You haven’t said anything to her yet about last night, have you?” Mr. I had better not invite the girl’s confidence, with the Sergeant on the look-out to surprise us together.

I see no way out of this business, which isn’t dreadful to think of, unless the Diamond is traced to Rosanna. And yet I can’t, and won’t, help Sergeant Cuff to find the girl out.” Unreasonable enough, no doubt.

I thoroughly understood him.

If you will, for once in your life, remember that you are mortal, perhaps you will thoroughly understand him too. The state of things, indoors and out, while Sergeant Cuff was on his way to Frizinghall, was briefly this: Miss Rachel waited for the time when the carriage was to take her to her aunt’s, still obstinately shut up in her own room.

Franklin breakfasted together. Franklin took one of his sudden resolutions, and went out precipitately to quiet his mind by a long walk. I was the only person who saw him go; and he told me he should be back before the Sergeant returned. She only once alluded to the matter of the Moonstone, and that was in the way of forbidding any present mention of it between us. “We MUST speak of it then: we are not obliged to speak of it now.” After leaving my mistress, I found Penelope waiting for me in my room. “I wish, father, you would come and speak to Rosanna,” she said. But it is a maxim of mine that men (being superior creatures) are bound to improve women--if they can. When a woman wants me to do anything (my daughter, or not, it doesn’t matter), I always insist on knowing why. Franklin has hurt Rosanna cruelly, without intending it.” “What took Rosanna into the shrubbery walk?” I asked.

She was bent on speaking to Mr.

I did my best to stop her; you saw that.

I can’t call to mind that anything happened to alarm Rosanna.” “Nothing to alarm her, father. Franklin said he took no interest whatever in her--and, oh, he said it in such a cruel voice!” “He said it to stop the Sergeant’s mouth,” I answered. “I told her that,” says Penelope. Franklin isn’t to blame), he’s been mortifying and disappointing her for weeks and weeks past; and now this comes on the top of it all! She has no right, of course, to expect him to take any interest in her. But she seems to have lost pride, and proper feeling, and everything. They seemed to turn her into stone. A sudden quiet came over her, and she has gone about her work, ever since, like a woman in a dream.” I began to feel a little uneasy. I called to mind, now my thoughts were directed that way, what had passed between Mr.

She looked cut to the heart on that occasion; and now, as ill-luck would have it, she had been unavoidably stung again, poor soul, on the tender place. sad!--all the more sad because the girl had no reason to justify her, and no right to feel it. Franklin to speak to Rosanna, and this seemed the fittest time for keeping my word. I noticed a curious dimness and dullness in her eyes--not as if she had been crying but as if she had been looking at something too long. There was certainly no object about her to look at which she had not seen already hundreds on hundreds of times. I have got something to say to you from Mr. My principles, in regard to the other sex, are, as you may have noticed, very severe. But somehow or other, when I come face to face with the women, my practice (I own) is not conformable. Please to thank him.” That was all the answer she made me.

I now added to this observation, that she also listened and spoke like a woman in a dream. I doubted if her mind was in a fit condition to take in what I had said to her. I took away the broom as gently and as kindly as I could.

Make a clean breast of it, Rosanna--make a clean breast of it!” The time had been, when my speaking to her in that way would have brought the tears into her eyes.

“Yes,” she said, “I’ll make a clean breast of it.” “To my lady?” I asked.

“No.” “To Mr. Franklin?” “Yes; to Mr.

Franklin.” I hardly knew what to say to that. She was in no condition to understand the caution against speaking to him in private, which Mr. Franklin had directed me to give her. Feeling my way, little by little, I only told her Mr. Franklin, to-day.” “Why not speak to my lady?” I said. “The way to relieve your mind is to speak to the merciful and Christian mistress who has always been kind to you.” She looked at me for a moment with a grave and steady attention, as if she was fixing what I said in her mind.

Then she took the broom out of my hands and moved off with it slowly, a little way down the corridor. “No,” she said, going on with her sweeping, and speaking to herself; “I know a better way of relieving my mind than that.” “What is it?” “Please to let me go on with my work.” Penelope followed her, and offered to help her. I want to do my work. Betteredge.” There was no moving her--there was nothing more to be said. I signed to Penelope to come away with me. “This is a matter for the doctor to look into,” I said. Candy’s illness, owing (as you may remember) to the chill he had caught on the night of the dinner-party.

Ezra Jennings--was at our disposal, to be sure. There were other doctors at Frizinghall. But they were strangers to our house; and Penelope doubted, in Rosanna’s present state, whether strangers might not do her more harm than good. I thought of speaking to my lady. But, remembering the heavy weight of anxiety which she already had on her mind, I hesitated to add to all the other vexations this new trouble.

The girl’s state was, to my thinking, downright alarming--and my mistress ought to be informed of it. Unwilling enough, I went to her sitting-room. It was impossible for me to see her till she came out again. I waited in vain till the clock on the front staircase struck the quarter to two. CHAPTER XVIII Going down to the front door, I met the Sergeant on the steps. It went against the grain with me, after what had passed between us, to show him that I felt any sort of interest in his proceedings. “And I have found out what Rosanna bought privately in the town, on Thursday last.

Murthwaite’s mind, that they came to this place to steal the Moonstone. Their calculations were all thrown out, of course, by what happened in the house on Wednesday night; and they have no more to do with the actual loss of the jewel than you have. Betteredge--if WE don’t find the Moonstone, THEY will. Governing his curiosity better than I had governed mine, he passed us without a word, and went on into the house. As for me, having already dropped my dignity, I determined to have the whole benefit of the sacrifice. “I have traced her to a shop at Frizinghall, kept by a linen draper named Maltby. As to quantity, she bought enough to make a nightgown.” “Whose nightgown?” I asked.

“Her own, to be sure. Between twelve and three, on the Thursday morning, she must have slipped down to your young lady’s room, to settle the hiding of the Moonstone while all the rest of you were in bed. In going back to her own room, her nightgown must have brushed the wet paint on the door. She couldn’t wash out the stain; and she couldn’t safely destroy the night-gown without first providing another like it, to make the inventory of her linen complete.” “What proves that it was Rosanna’s nightgown?” I objected. “If it had been Miss Verinder’s nightgown, she would have had to buy lace, and frilling, and Lord knows what besides; and she wouldn’t have had time to make it in one night.

The hiding-place at the Shivering Sand must be searched--and the true state of the case will be discovered there.” “How are you to find the place?” I inquired. “I am sorry to disappoint you,” said the Sergeant--“but that’s a secret which I mean to keep to myself.” (Not to irritate your curiosity, as he irritated mine, I may here inform you that he had come back from Frizinghall provided with a search-warrant. His experience in such matters told him that Rosanna was in all probability carrying about her a memorandum of the hiding-place, to guide her, in case she returned to it, under changed circumstances and after a lapse of time. Betteredge,” he went on, “suppose we drop speculation, and get to business. I told Joyce to have an eye on Rosanna. The clock struck two, as he put the question; and, punctual to the moment, the carriage came round to take Miss Rachel to her aunt’s. “One thing at a time,” said the Sergeant, stopping me as I was about to send in search of Joyce. “I must attend to Miss Verinder first.” As the rain was still threatening, it was the close carriage that had been appointed to take Miss Rachel to Frizinghall.

Sergeant Cuff beckoned Samuel to come down to him from the rumble behind. “My friend, without stopping the carriage, will get up into the rumble with you. You have nothing to do but to hold your tongue, and shut your eyes. Otherwise, you will get into trouble.” With that advice, he sent the footman back to his place. It was plain, to my mind, that Miss Rachel was to be privately kept in view from the time when she left our house--if she did leave it. I could have cut my own tongue out for having forgotten myself so far as to speak to Sergeant Cuff.

The first person to come out of the house was my lady.

She stood aside, on the top step, posting herself there to see what happened. Not a word did she say, either to the Sergeant or to me.

With her lips closed, and her arms folded in the light garden cloak which she had wrapped round her on coming into the air, there she stood, as still as a statue, waiting for her daughter to appear. She came swiftly out to us, as straight as a lily on its stem, and as lithe and supple in every movement she made as a young cat. Her eyes were brighter and fiercer than I liked to see; and her lips had so completely lost their colour and their smile that I hardly knew them again. She said, “Try to forgive me, mamma”--and then pulled down her veil over her face so vehemently that she tore it. In another moment she had run down the steps, and had rushed into the carriage as if it was a hiding-place. He put Samuel back, and stood before Miss Rachel, with the open carriage-door in his hand, at the instant when she settled herself in her place. “I want to say one word to you, miss,” answered the Sergeant, “before you go. I can’t presume to stop your paying a visit to your aunt. I can only venture to say that your leaving us, as things are now, puts an obstacle in the way of my recovering your Diamond. Please to understand that; and now decide for yourself whether you go or stay.” Miss Rachel never even answered him.

“Drive on, James!” she called out to the coachman. The coachman, not knowing what to do, looked towards my lady, still standing immovable on the top step. My lady, with anger and sorrow and shame all struggling together in her face, made him a sign to start the horses, and then turned back hastily into the house. Accept my thanks for all your kindness--and let me go.” My lady turned as though to speak to him. “Let me see you, before you leave us, Franklin,” she said, in a broken voice--and went on to her own room.

Franklin, turning to me, with the tears in his eyes. “Get me away to the train as soon as you can!” He too went his way into the house. Sergeant Cuff and I were left face to face, at the bottom of the steps. The Sergeant stood with his face set towards a gap in the trees, commanding a view of one of the windings of the drive which led from the house. He had his hands in his pockets, and he was softly whistling “The Last Rose of Summer” to himself. “This isn’t a time for whistling.” At that moment, the carriage appeared in the distance, through the gap, on its way to the lodge-gate. “All right!” said the Sergeant to himself.

He turned round to me. It’s time to take this business in hand, now, without sparing anybody. I sent one of the stable-boys to look for him. “You heard what I said to Miss Verinder?” remarked the Sergeant, while we were waiting.

Betteredge--and the name of it is, the Moonstone.” I said nothing.

I only held on like death to my belief in Miss Rachel. The stable-boy came back, followed--very unwillingly, as it appeared to me--by Joyce. But somehow or other----” “Before I went to Frizinghall,” said the Sergeant, cutting him short, “I told you to keep your eyes on Rosanna Spearman, without allowing her to discover that she was being watched. Do you mean to tell me that you have let her give you the slip?” “I am afraid, sir,” says Joyce, beginning to tremble, “that I was perhaps a little TOO careful not to let her discover me. There are such a many passages in the lower parts of this house----” “How long is it since you missed her?” “Nigh on an hour since, sir.” “You can go back to your regular business at Frizinghall,” said the Sergeant, speaking just as composedly as ever, in his usual quiet and dreary way. I find it very difficult to describe how I was affected by the discovery that Rosanna Spearman was missing. I seemed to be in fifty different minds about it, all at the same time.

In that state, I stood staring at Sergeant Cuff--and my powers of language quite failed me. Betteredge,” said the Sergeant, as if he had discovered the uppermost thought in me, and was picking it out to be answered, before all the rest. They will get together at Frizinghall, instead of getting together here.

The present inquiry must be simply shifted (rather sooner than I had anticipated) from this house, to the house at which Miss Verinder is visiting. In the meantime, I’m afraid I must trouble you to call the servants together again.” I went round with him to the servants’ hall. I said, “For goodness’ sake, tell us what you are going to do with the servants now?” The great Cuff stood stock still, and addressed himself in a kind of melancholy rapture to the empty air. “If this man,” said the Sergeant (apparently meaning me), “only understood the growing of roses he would be the most completely perfect character on the face of creation!” After that strong expression of feeling, he sighed, and put his arm through mine. “This is how it stands,” he said, dropping down again to business. She has either gone direct to Frizinghall (before I can get there), or she has gone first to visit her hiding-place at the Shivering Sand. The first thing to find out is, which of the servants saw the last of her before she left the house.” On instituting this inquiry, it turned out that the last person who had set eyes on Rosanna was Nancy, the kitchenmaid. Nancy had seen her slip out with a letter in her hand, and stop the butcher’s man who had just been delivering some meat at the back door. Nancy had heard her ask the man to post the letter when he got back to Frizinghall. The man had looked at the address, and had said it was a roundabout way of delivering a letter directed to Cobb’s Hole, to post it at Frizinghall--and that, moreover, on a Saturday, which would prevent the letter from getting to its destination until Monday morning, Rosanna had answered that the delivery of the letter being delayed till Monday was of no importance.

The only thing she wished to be sure of was that the man would do what she told him. The man had promised to do it, and had driven away. Nancy had been called back to her work in the kitchen. “I must go to Frizinghall.” “About the letter, sir?” “Yes. Yolland, another visit on Monday next.” I went with the Sergeant to order the pony-chaise. They too had made their inquiries; and they had just laid hands on a quick little imp, nicknamed “Duffy”--who was occasionally employed in weeding the garden, and who had seen Rosanna Spearman as lately as half-an-hour since. “Duffy!” says the Sergeant, “do you want to earn a shilling? Here again, I find it impossible to give anything like a clear account of the state of my mind in the interval after Sergeant Cuff had left us. I don’t even know how long it was after the Sergeant had gone to the sands, when Duffy came running back with a message for me.

Sergeant Cuff had given the boy a leaf torn out of his pocket-book, on which was written in pencil, “Send me one of Rosanna Spearman’s boots, and be quick about it.” I despatched the first woman-servant I could find to Rosanna’s room; and I sent the boy back to say that I myself would follow him with the boot. This, I am well aware, was not the quickest way to take of obeying the directions which I had received. But I was resolved to see for myself what new mystification was going on before I trusted Rosanna’s boot in the Sergeant’s hands. My old notion of screening the girl, if I could, seemed to have come back on me again, at the eleventh hour. This state of feeling (to say nothing of the detective-fever) hurried me off, as soon as I had got the boot, at the nearest approach to a run which a man turned seventy can reasonably hope to make.

He waved his hand towards the north, when he first saw me. “And come on down here to me!” I went down to him, choking for breath, with my heart leaping as if it was like to leap out of me. I had a hundred questions to put to him; and not one of them would pass my lips. He snatched the boot out of my hand, and set it in a footmark on the sand, bearing south from us as we stood, and pointing straight towards the rocky ledge called the South Spit. The mark was not yet blurred out by the rain--and the girl’s boot fitted it to a hair. The Sergeant pointed to the boot in the footmark, without saying a word. I caught at his arm, and tried to speak to him, and failed as I had failed when I tried before. He went on, following the footsteps down and down to where the rocks and the sand joined. Now this way and now that, with an obstinate patience that was dreadful to see, Sergeant Cuff tried the boot in the footsteps, and always found it pointing the same way--straight TO the rocks. “She has been back at the hiding-place,” I heard the Sergeant say to himself.

“Some fatal accident has happened to her on those rocks.” The girl’s altered looks, and words, and actions--the numbed, deadened way in which she listened to me, and spoke to me--when I had found her sweeping the corridor but a few hours since, rose up in my mind, and warned me, even as the Sergeant spoke, that his guess was wide of the dreadful truth. I tried to tell him of the fear that had frozen me up. I tried to say, “The death she has died, Sergeant, was a death of her own seeking.” No! I saw her again as I had seen her in the past time--on the morning when I went to fetch her into the house. I heard her again, telling me that the Shivering Sand seemed to draw her to it against her will, and wondering whether her grave was waiting for her THERE. With that relief, I began to fetch my breath again, and to see things about me, as things really were. Looking towards the sand-hills, I saw the men-servants from out-of-doors, and the fisherman, named Yolland, all running down to us together; and all, having taken the alarm, calling out to know if the girl had been found. In the fewest words, the Sergeant showed them the evidence of the footmarks, and told them that a fatal accident must have happened to her. He then picked out the fisherman from the rest, and put a question to him, turning about again towards the sea: “Tell me,” he said. “Could a boat have taken her off, in such weather as this, from those rocks where her footmarks stop?” The fisherman pointed to the rollers tumbling in on the sand-bank, and to the great waves leaping up in clouds of foam against the headlands on either side of us.

“No boat that ever was built,” he answered, “could have got to her through THAT.” Sergeant Cuff looked for the last time at the foot-marks on the sand, which the rain was now fast blurring out. And here,” he went on, looking at the fisherman, “is the evidence that she can’t have got away by sea.” He stopped, and considered for a minute. “She was seen running towards this place, half an hour before I got here from the house,” he said to Yolland.

Call it, altogether, an hour ago. How high would the water be, at that time, on this side of the rocks?” He pointed to the south side--otherwise, the side which was not filled up by the quicksand. “As the tide makes to-day,” said the fisherman, “there wouldn’t have been water enough to drown a kitten on that side of the Spit, an hour since.” Sergeant Cuff turned about northward, towards the quicksand. “The Shivering Sand would have been just awash, and no more.” The Sergeant turned to me, and said that the accident must have happened on the side of the quicksand. My tongue was loosened at that. “No accident!” I told him. “When she came to this place, she came weary of her life, to end it here.” He started back from me. He put them back from me; he said I was an old man; he said the discovery had shaken me; he said, “Let him alone a little.” Then he turned to Yolland, and asked, “Is there any chance of finding her, when the tide ebbs again?” And Yolland answered, “None. What the Sand gets, the Sand keeps for ever.” Having said that, the fisherman came a step nearer, and addressed himself to me. Betteredge,” he said, “I have a word to say to you about the young woman’s death.

If she slipped, by accident, from off the Spit, she fell in where there’s foothold at the bottom, at a depth that would barely cover her to the waist.

She must have waded out, or jumped out, into the Deeps beyond--or she wouldn’t be missing now. And they have got her by her own act.” After that testimony from a man whose knowledge was to be relied on, the Sergeant was silent.

At the sand-hillocks we were met by the under-groom, running to us from the house. “She found it in Rosanna’s room.” It was her last farewell word to the old man who had done his best--thank God, always done his best--to befriend her. When you next see the Shivering Sand, try to forgive me once more. Little as it was, I hadn’t manhood enough to hold up against it. Sergeant Cuff took a step nearer to me--meaning kindly, I don’t doubt. “Don’t touch me,” I said. “It’s the dread of you, that has driven her to it.” “You are wrong, Mr. “But there will be time enough to speak of it when we are indoors again.” I followed the rest of them, with the help of the groom’s arm. Through the driving rain we went back--to meet the trouble and the terror that were waiting for us at the house.

Franklin following, and trying vainly to compose her), quite beside herself with the horror of the thing. give that wretch his money--and release me from the sight of him!” The Sergeant was the only one among us who was fit to cope with her--being the only one among us who was in possession of himself. Franklin to lead her back into the room.

“When your father has changed his wet clothes,” he said to her, “come and speak to us, in your father’s room.” Before the half-hour was out, I had got my dry clothes on, and had lent Sergeant Cuff such change of dress as he required. Penelope came in to us to hear what the Sergeant wanted with her. I took her and sat her on my knee and I prayed God bless her.

The poor dead girl must have been at the bottom of it, I think, with my daughter and with me. The Sergeant went to the window, and stood there looking out. I thought it right to thank him for considering us both in this way--and I did. People in high life have all the luxuries to themselves--among others, the luxury of indulging their feelings. We learn to put our feelings back into ourselves, and to jog on with our duties as patiently as may be. Asked if she knew what had led her fellow-servant to destroy herself, my daughter answered (as you will foresee) that it was for love of Mr. Asked next, if she had mentioned this notion of hers to any other person, Penelope answered, “I have not mentioned it, for Rosanna’s sake.” I felt it necessary to add a word to this. Let him leave the house to-day, if he does leave it, without the useless pain of knowing the truth.” Sergeant Cuff said, “Quite right,” and fell silent again; comparing Penelope’s notion (as it seemed to me) with some other notion of his own which he kept to himself. On my way to answer it, I met Mr. He mentioned that her ladyship was ready to see Sergeant Cuff--in my presence as before--and he added that he himself wanted to say two words to the Sergeant first.

On our way back to my room, he stopped, and looked at the railway time-table in the hall. “Are you really going to leave us, sir?” I asked. My mistress had noticed, from the time when the police first came into the house, that the bare mention of him was enough to set Miss Rachel’s temper in a flame. He had been too fond of his cousin to like to confess this to himself, until the truth had been forced on him, when she drove off to her aunt’s. Franklin had taken his resolution--the one resolution which a man of any spirit COULD take--to leave the house.

What he had to say to the Sergeant was spoken in my presence. He described her ladyship as willing to acknowledge that she had spoken over-hastily. And he asked if Sergeant Cuff would consent--in that case--to accept his fee, and to leave the matter of the Diamond where the matter stood now. I decline to take it, until my duty is done.” “I don’t understand you,” says Mr. “When I came here, I undertook to throw the necessary light on the matter of the missing Diamond. I am now ready, and waiting to redeem my pledge. When I have stated the case to Lady Verinder as the case now stands, and when I have told her plainly what course of action to take for the recovery of the Moonstone, the responsibility will be off my shoulders. Let her ladyship decide, after that, whether she does, or does not, allow me to go on. I shall then have done what I undertook to do--and I’ll take my fee.” In those words Sergeant Cuff reminded us that, even in the Detective Police, a man may have a reputation to lose.

The view he took was so plainly the right one, that there was no more to be said. As I rose to conduct him to my lady’s room, he asked if Mr. Franklin wished to be present. Franklin answered, “Not unless Lady Verinder desires it.” He added, in a whisper to me, as I was following the Sergeant out, “I know what that man is going to say about Rachel; and I am too fond of her to hear it, and keep my temper. Leave me by myself.” I left him, miserable enough, leaning on the sill of my window, with his face hidden in his hands and Penelope peeping through the door, longing to comfort him. When you are ill-used by one woman, there is great comfort in telling it to another--because, nine times out of ten, the other always takes your side.

In that case it is only doing my daughter justice to declare that she would stick at nothing, in the way of comforting Mr. In the meantime, Sergeant Cuff and I proceeded to my lady’s room. At the last conference we had held with her, we had found her not over willing to lift her eyes from the book which she had on the table. The family spirit showed itself in every line of her face; and I knew that Sergeant Cuff would meet his match, when a woman like my mistress was strung up to hear the worst he could say to her. “Sergeant Cuff,” she said, “there was perhaps some excuse for the inconsiderate manner in which I spoke to you half an hour since. I have no wish, however, to claim that excuse. I say, with perfect sincerity, that I regret it, if I wronged you.” The grace of voice and manner with which she made him that atonement had its due effect on the Sergeant. He requested permission to justify himself--putting his justification as an act of respect to my mistress. It was impossible, he said, that he could be in any way responsible for the calamity, which had shocked us all, for this sufficient reason, that his success in bringing his inquiry to its proper end depended on his neither saying nor doing anything that could alarm Rosanna Spearman. He appealed to me to testify whether he had, or had not, carried that object out.

And there, as I thought, the matter might have been judiciously left to come to an end. Sergeant Cuff, however, took it a step further, evidently (as you shall now judge) with the purpose of forcing the most painful of all possible explanations to take place between her ladyship and himself. I am bound to add, however, that my own opinion points the other way. Some unbearable anxiety in connexion with the missing Diamond, has, I believe, driven the poor creature to her own destruction. I don’t pretend to know what that unbearable anxiety may have been.

“The person has left the house, my lady.” That answer pointed as straight to Miss Rachel as straight could be. A silence dropped on us which I thought would never come to an end. how the wind howled, and how the rain drove at the window, as I sat there waiting for one or other of them to speak again!

“Be so good as to express yourself plainly,” said my lady. “Do you refer to my daughter?” “I do,” said Sergeant Cuff, in so many words. My mistress had her cheque-book on the table when we entered the room--no doubt to pay the Sergeant his fee. It went to my heart to see how her poor hand trembled--the hand that had loaded her old servant with benefits; the hand that, I pray God, may take mine, when my time comes, and I leave my place for ever!

“I had hoped,” said my lady, very slowly and quietly, “to have recompensed your services, and to have parted with you without Miss Verinder’s name having been openly mentioned between us as it has been mentioned now. My nephew has probably said something of this, before you came into my room?” “Mr. Blake a reason----” “It is needless to tell me your reason.

After what you have just said, you know as well as I do that you have gone too far to go back. I owe it to myself, and I owe it to my child, to insist on your remaining here, and to insist on your speaking out.” The Sergeant looked at his watch. But, if this inquiry is to go on, time is of too much importance to be wasted in writing. I am ready to go into the matter at once. It is a very painful matter for me to speak of, and for you to hear.” There my mistress stopped him once more. “I may possibly make it less painful to you, and to my good servant and friend here,” she said, “if I set the example of speaking boldly, on my side. Now, before you begin, I have to tell you, as Miss Verinder’s mother, that she is ABSOLUTELY INCAPABLE of doing what you suppose her to have done. I know my child.” She turned to me, and gave me her hand.

As to shaking him in his own conviction, it was plain to see that she had not moved him by a single inch. He settled himself in his chair; and he began his vile attack on Miss Rachel’s character in these words: “I must ask your ladyship,” he said, “to look this matter in the face, from my point of view as well as from yours. Will you please to suppose yourself coming down here, in my place, and with my experience? and will you allow me to mention very briefly what that experience has been?” My mistress signed to him that she would do this. It is well within my experience, that young ladies of rank and position do occasionally have private debts which they dare not acknowledge to their nearest relatives and friends.

Sometimes, the milliner and the jeweller are at the bottom of it. Bear in mind what I have said, my lady--and now let us see how events in this house have forced me back on my own experience, whether I liked it or not!” He considered with himself for a moment, and went on--with a horrid clearness that obliged you to understand him; with an abominable justice that favoured nobody. “My first information relating to the loss of the Moonstone,” said the Sergeant, “came to me from Superintendent Seegrave. He proved to my complete satisfaction that he was perfectly incapable of managing the case.

The one thing he said which struck me as worth listening to, was this--that Miss Verinder had declined to be questioned by him, and had spoken to him with a perfectly incomprehensible rudeness and contempt. I thought this curious--but I attributed it mainly to some clumsiness on the Superintendent’s part which might have offended the young lady. After that, I put it by in my mind, and applied myself, single-handed, to the case. So far, if I suspected anything, I suspected that the Moonstone had been stolen, and that one of the servants might prove to be the thief. Miss Verinder suddenly comes out of her room, and speaks to me. Here (I say to myself) is a young lady who has lost a valuable jewel--a young lady, also, as my own eyes and ears inform me, who is of an impetuous temperament. Superintendent, and myself--otherwise, the very three people who have all, in their different ways, been trying to help her to recover her lost jewel.

Having brought my inquiry to that point--THEN, my lady, and not till then, I begin to look back into my own mind for my own experience. And it sets me asking myself, whether the loss of the Diamond may not mean--that the Diamond must be secretly pledged to pay them. ROBINSON CRUSOE--God knows how--had got into my muddled old head. If Sergeant Cuff had found himself, at that moment, transported to a desert island, without a man Friday to keep him company, or a ship to take him off--he would have found himself exactly where I wished him to be! (Nota bene:--I am an average good Christian, when you don’t push my Christianity too far. And all the rest of you--which is a great comfort--are, in this respect, much the same as I am.) Sergeant Cuff went on: “Right or wrong, my lady,” he said, “having drawn my conclusion, the next thing to do was to put it to the test. I suggested to your ladyship the examination of all the wardrobes in the house. It was a means of finding the article of dress which had, in all probability, made the smear; and it was a means of putting my conclusion to the test. Miss Verinder alone stopped the whole proceeding by refusing point-blank.

Betteredge persist in not agreeing with me, you must be blind to what happened before you this very day. In your hearing, I told the young lady that her leaving the house (as things were then) would put an obstacle in the way of my recovering her jewel. Blake for having done more than all the rest of you to put the clue into my hands, she publicly insulted Mr. If Miss Verinder is not privy to the suppression of the Diamond, what do these things mean?” This time he looked my way. It was downright frightful to hear him piling up proof after proof against Miss Rachel, and to know, while one was longing to defend her, that there was no disputing the truth of what he said. I am (thank God!) constitutionally superior to reason. This enabled me to hold firm to my lady’s view, which was my view also. Cultivate a superiority to reason, and see how you pare the claws of all the sensible people when they try to scratch you for your own good! how it did enrage me to notice that he was not in the least put out by our silence! “The next thing is to put the case as it stands against Miss Verinder and the deceased Rosanna Spearman taken together.

We will go back for a moment, if you please, to your daughter’s refusal to let her wardrobe be examined. My mind being made up, after that circumstance, I had two questions to consider next. First, as to the right method of conducting my inquiry. Second, as to whether Miss Verinder had an accomplice among the female servants in the house. After carefully thinking it over, I determined to conduct the inquiry in, what we should call at our office, a highly irregular manner. For this reason: I had a family scandal to deal with, which it was my business to keep within the family limits. The less noise made, and the fewer strangers employed to help me, the better. As to the usual course of taking people in custody on suspicion, going before the magistrate, and all the rest of it--nothing of the sort was to be thought of, when your ladyship’s daughter was (as I believed) at the bottom of the whole business. Betteredge’s character and position in the house--knowing the servants as he did, and having the honour of the family at heart--would be safer to take as an assistant than any other person whom I could lay my hand on. I trouble your ladyship with these particulars to show you that I have kept the family secret within the family circle.

I am the only outsider who knows it--and my professional existence depends on holding my tongue.” Here I felt that my professional existence depended on not holding my tongue. To be held up before my mistress, in my old age, as a sort of deputy-policeman, was, once again, more than my Christianity was strong enough to bear. “I beg to inform your ladyship,” I said, “that I never, to my knowledge, helped this abominable detective business, in any way, from first to last; and I summon Sergeant Cuff to contradict me, if he dares!” Having given vent in those words, I felt greatly relieved. I looked with righteous indignation at the Sergeant, to see what he thought of such a testimony as THAT. The Sergeant looked back like a lamb, and seemed to like me better than ever. “I understand,” she said, “that you have honestly done your best, in what you believe to be my interest. I am ready to hear what you have to say next.” “What I have to say next,” answered Sergeant Cuff, “relates to Rosanna Spearman. I recognised the young woman, as your ladyship may remember, when she brought the washing-book into this room. Up to that time I was inclined to doubt whether Miss Verinder had trusted her secret to any one. I suspected her at once of being privy to the suppression of the Diamond.

The poor creature has met her death by a dreadful end, and I don’t want your ladyship to think, now she’s gone, that I was unduly hard on her. If this had been a common case of thieving, I should have given Rosanna the benefit of the doubt just as freely as I should have given it to any of the other servants in the house. Our experience of the Reformatory woman is, that when tried in service--and when kindly and judiciously treated--they prove themselves in the majority of cases to be honestly penitent, and honestly worthy of the pains taken with them. It was a case--in my mind--of a deeply planned fraud, with the owner of the Diamond at the bottom of it. Holding this view, the first consideration which naturally presented itself to me, in connection with Rosanna, was this: Would Miss Verinder be satisfied (begging your ladyship’s pardon) with leading us all to think that the Moonstone was merely lost? Or would she go a step further, and delude us into believing that the Moonstone was stolen?

In the latter event there was Rosanna Spearman--with the character of a thief--ready to her hand; the person of all others to lead your ladyship off, and to lead me off, on a false scent.” Was it possible (I asked myself) that he could put his case against Miss Rachel and Rosanna in a more horrid point of view than this? “I had another reason for suspecting the deceased woman,” he said, “which appears to me to have been stronger still.

Who would be the very person to help Miss Verinder in raising money privately on the Diamond? Your ladyship’s deceased housemaid was at the top of her profession when she was a thief. She had relations, to my certain knowledge, with one of the few men in London (in the money-lending line) who would advance a large sum on such a notable jewel as the Moonstone, without asking awkward questions, or insisting on awkward conditions. Bear this in mind, my lady; and now let me show you how my suspicions have been justified by Rosanna’s own acts, and by the plain inferences to be drawn from them.” He thereupon passed the whole of Rosanna’s proceedings under review. You are already as well acquainted with those proceedings as I am; and you will understand how unanswerably this part of his report fixed the guilt of being concerned in the disappearance of the Moonstone on the memory of the poor dead girl. It didn’t seem to matter to the Sergeant whether he was answered or not. “Having stated the whole case as I understand it,” he said, “I have only to tell your ladyship, now, what I propose to do next. I see two ways of bringing this inquiry successfully to an end. Shall we take the certainty first?” My mistress made him a sign to take his own way, and choose for himself.

“We’ll begin with the certainty, as your ladyship is so good as to leave it to me. Whether Miss Verinder remains at Frizinghall, or whether she returns here, I propose, in either case, to keep a careful watch on all her proceedings--on the people she sees, on the rides and walks she may take, and on the letters she may write and receive.” “What next?” asked my mistress. “I shall next,” answered the Sergeant, “request your ladyship’s leave to introduce into the house, as a servant in the place of Rosanna Spearman, a woman accustomed to private inquiries of this sort, for whose discretion I can answer.” “What next?” repeated my mistress. “Next,” proceeded the Sergeant, “and last, I propose to send one of my brother-officers to make an arrangement with that money-lender in London, whom I mentioned just now as formerly acquainted with Rosanna Spearman--and whose name and address, your ladyship may rely on it, have been communicated by Rosanna to Miss Verinder. We run a line round the Moonstone, and we draw that line closer and closer till we find it in Miss Verinder’s possession, supposing she decides to keep it.

If her debts press, and she decides on sending it away, then we have our man ready, and we meet the Moonstone on its arrival in London.” To hear her own daughter made the subject of such a proposal as this, stung my mistress into speaking angrily for the first time. “And go on to your other way of bringing the inquiry to an end.” “My other way,” said the Sergeant, going on as easy as ever, “is to try that bold experiment to which I have alluded. She is quite capable (according to my belief) of committing a daring fraud. But she is too hot and impetuous in temper, and too little accustomed to deceit as a habit, to act the hypocrite in small things, and to restrain herself under all provocations. Her feelings, in this case, have repeatedly got beyond her control, at the very time when it was plainly her interest to conceal them. It is on this peculiarity in her character that I now propose to act. I want to give her a great shock suddenly, under circumstances that will touch her to the quick.

In plain English, I want to tell Miss Verinder, without a word of warning, of Rosanna’s death--on the chance that her own better feelings will hurry her into making a clean breast of it. Does your ladyship accept that alternative?” My mistress astonished me beyond all power of expression. “I wish your ladyship good morning.” My lady held up her hand, and stopped him at the door. “My daughter’s better feelings shall be appealed to, as you propose,” she said. “But I claim the right, as her mother, of putting her to the test myself. You will remain here, if you please; and I will go to Frizinghall.” For once in his life, the great Cuff stood speechless with amazement, like an ordinary man. It was still pouring with rain; and the close carriage had gone, as you know, with Miss Rachel to Frizinghall. I tried to dissuade her ladyship from facing the severity of the weather. I asked leave to go with her, and hold the umbrella.

“You may rely on two things,” she said to Sergeant Cuff, in the hall. And I will inform you of the result, either personally or by letter, before the last train leaves for London to-night.” With that, she stepped into the chaise, and, taking the reins herself, drove off to Frizinghall. CHAPTER XXII My mistress having left us, I had leisure to think of Sergeant Cuff. “Looking to see what my next professional engagement is.” “Oh!” I said. Betteredge?” There was no getting a word more out of him on the matter of the Moonstone.

An hour afterwards, I heard them at high words in the conservatory, with the dog-rose once more at the bottom of the dispute. In the meantime, it was my business to find out whether Mr. Franklin persisted in his resolution to leave us by the afternoon train. After having been informed of the conference in my lady’s room, and of how it had ended, he immediately decided on waiting to hear the news from Frizinghall. This very natural alteration in his plans--which, with ordinary people, would have led to nothing in particular--proved, in Mr. Franklin’s case, to have one objectionable result. It left him unsettled, with a legacy of idle time on his hands, and, in so doing, it let out all the foreign sides of his character, one on the top of another, like rats out of a bag. Now as an Italian-Englishman, now as a German-Englishman, and now as a French-Englishman, he drifted in and out of all the sitting-rooms in the house, with nothing to talk of but Miss Rachel’s treatment of him; and with nobody to address himself to but me. “I have several worthy aspirations, Betteredge; but what am I to do with them now? I am full of dormant good qualities, if Rachel would only have helped me to bring them out!” He was so eloquent in drawing the picture of his own neglected merits, and so pathetic in lamenting over it when it was done, that I felt quite at my wits’ end how to console him, when it suddenly occurred to me that here was a case for the wholesome application of a bit of ROBINSON CRUSOE.

I hobbled out to my own room, and hobbled back with that immortal book. There was his handkerchief on the floor, to prove that he had drifted in. And there was the empty room to prove that he had drifted out again. Franklin had vanished before the bell downstairs had quite done ringing with the pull he had given to it. “Your sherry is waiting for you, sir,” I said to him. I might as well have addressed myself to one of the four walls of the room; he was down in the bottomless deep of his own meditations, past all pulling up. Franklin shut up ROBINSON CRUSOE, and floundered into his German-English gibberish on the spot. “Why not look into it?” he said, as if I had personally objected to looking into it.

“Why the devil lose your patience, Betteredge, when patience is all that’s wanted to arrive at the truth? Rachel’s conduct is perfectly intelligible, if you will only do her the common justice to take the Objective view first, and the Subjective view next, and the Objective-Subjective view to wind up with. We know that the loss of the Moonstone, on Thursday morning last, threw her into a state of nervous excitement, from which she has not recovered yet. Do you mean to deny the Objective view, so far? Now, being in a state of nervous excitement, how are we to expect that she should behave as she might otherwise have behaved to any of the people about her?

I defy you to controvert the Subjective view.

In this deplorable state, I contrived to do, what I take to have been, three Objective things. Franklin his sherry; I retired to my own room; and I solaced myself with the most composing pipe of tobacco I ever remember to have smoked in my life. Drifting again, out of the morning-room into the hall, he found his way to the offices next, smelt my pipe, and was instantly reminded that he had been simple enough to give up smoking for Miss Rachel’s sake. Is it conceivable that a man can have smoked as long as I have without discovering that there is a complete system for the treatment of women at the bottom of his cigar-case? Betteredge,” I said, “I felt pretty often inclined to try your philosophy, Mr. The pony-chaise returned a good half hour before I had ventured to expect it.

My lady had decided to remain for the present, at her sister’s house. The groom brought two letters from his mistress; one addressed to Mr. Franklin, and the other to me. Franklin’s letter I sent to him in the library--into which refuge his driftings had now taken him for the second time. A cheque, which dropped out when I opened it, informed me (before I had mastered the contents) that Sergeant Cuff’s dismissal from the inquiry after the Moonstone was now a settled thing. I sent to the conservatory to say that I wished to speak to the Sergeant directly. I requested him to dismiss such wretched trifling as this from our conversation, and to give his best attention to a really serious matter. Upon that he exerted himself sufficiently to notice the letter in my hand.

Have I anything to do with it, Mr. Betteredge?” “You shall judge for yourself, Sergeant.” I thereupon read him the letter (with my best emphasis and discretion), in the following words: “MY GOOD GABRIEL,--I request that you will inform Sergeant Cuff, that I have performed the promise I made to him; with this result, so far as Rosanna Spearman is concerned. Miss Verinder solemnly declares, that she has never spoken a word in private to Rosanna, since that unhappy woman first entered my house.

They never met, even accidentally, on the night when the Diamond was lost; and no communication of any sort whatever took place between them, from the Thursday morning when the alarm was first raised in the house, to this present Saturday afternoon, when Miss Verinder left us. Betteredge,” he said, with the most exasperating resignation, “go on.” When I remembered that this man had had the audacity to complain of our gardener’s obstinacy, my tongue itched to “go on” in other words than my mistress’s. I proceeded steadily with her ladyship’s letter: “Having appealed to Miss Verinder in the manner which the officer thought most desirable, I spoke to her next in the manner which I myself thought most likely to impress her. On two different occasions, before my daughter left my roof, I privately warned her that she was exposing herself to suspicion of the most unendurable and most degrading kind. I have now told her, in the plainest terms, that my apprehensions have been realised. “Her answer to this, on her own solemn affirmation, is as plain as words can be.

In the first place, she owes no money privately to any living creature. In the second place, the Diamond is not now, and never has been, in her possession, since she put it into her cabinet on Wednesday night. She refuses, with tears, when I appeal to her to speak out for my sake.

‘The day will come when you will know why I am careless about being suspected, and why I am silent even to you.

I have done much to make my mother pity me--nothing to make my mother blush for me.’ Those are my daughter’s own words.

Read my letter to him, and then place in his hands the cheque which I enclose. In resigning all further claim on his services, I have only to say that I am convinced of his honesty and his intelligence; but I am more firmly persuaded than ever, that the circumstances, in this case, have fatally misled him.” There the letter ended.

Before presenting the cheque, I asked Sergeant Cuff if he had any remark to make. Betteredge,” he answered, “to make remarks on a case, when I have done with it.” I tossed the cheque across the table to him. “This is such a generous estimate of the value of my time,” he said, “that I feel bound to make some return for it. We shall have more detective-business on our hands, sir, before the Moonstone is many months older.” If those words meant anything, and if the manner in which he spoke them meant anything--it came to this. My mistress’s letter had proved, to his mind, that Miss Rachel was hardened enough to resist the strongest appeal that could be addressed to her, and that she had deceived her own mother (good God, under what circumstances!) by a series of abominable lies. How other people, in my place, might have replied to the Sergeant, I don’t know.

I answered what he said in these plain terms: “Sergeant Cuff, I consider your last observation as an insult to my lady and her daughter!” “Mr. Betteredge, consider it as a warning to yourself, and you will be nearer the mark.” Hot and angry as I was, the infernal confidence with which he gave me that answer closed my lips. I walked to the window to compose myself.

Begbie, the gardener, waiting outside to continue the dog-rose controversy with Sergeant Cuff. “My compliments to the Sairgent,” said Mr. “If he’s minded to walk to the station, I’m agreeable to go with him.” “What!” cries the Sergeant, behind me, “are you not convinced yet?” “The de’il a bit I’m convinced!” answered Mr. “Then I’ll walk to the station!” says the Sergeant. I was angry enough, as you know--but how was any man’s anger to hold out against such an interruption as this? Why not say, the circumstances have fatally misled me?” To take anything as her ladyship took it was a privilege worth enjoying--even with the disadvantage of its having been offered to me by Sergeant Cuff.

I cooled slowly down to my customary level. The only thing I could not do, was to keep off the subject of the Moonstone! My own good sense ought to have warned me, I know, to let the matter rest--but, there! The end of it was that I perversely led him back to the subject of her ladyship’s letter. Go on, as if I was still open to conviction. You think Miss Rachel is not to be believed on her word; and you say we shall hear of the Moonstone again. “I declare to heaven,” says this strange officer solemnly, “I would take to domestic service to-morrow, Mr. To say you are as transparent as a child, sir, is to pay the children a compliment which nine out of ten of them don’t deserve.

we won’t begin to dispute again. I have warned you already that you haven’t done with the Moonstone yet. And this had never occurred to me, till Sergeant Cuff forced it on my mind all in a moment! You will hear of them in London, if Miss Rachel goes to London.” Having lost all interest in the three jugglers, and having thoroughly convinced myself of my young lady’s innocence, I took this second prophecy easily enough. “So much for two of the three things that are going to happen,” I said. Septimus Luker, Middlesex-place, Lambeth, London.” “There,” he said, pointing to the address, “are the last words, on the subject of the Moonstone, which I shall trouble you with for the present. In the meanwhile, sir, I carry away with me a sincere personal liking for you, which I think does honour to both of us. And as for the white moss rose----” “The de’il a bit ye’ll get the white moss rose to grow, unless you bud him on the dogue-rose first,” cried a voice at the window. Begbie, too eager for the controversy to wait any longer at the gate. The Sergeant wrung my hand, and darted out into the court-yard, hotter still on his side.

“Ask him about the moss rose, when he comes back, and see if I have left him a leg to stand on!” cried the great Cuff, hailing me through the window in his turn. “In the matter of the moss rose there is a great deal to be said on both sides!” I might as well (as the Irish say) have whistled jigs to a milestone. Away they went together, fighting the battle of the roses without asking or giving quarter on either side. Franklin’s departure, the history of the Saturday’s events will be finished at last. And when I have next described certain strange things that happened in the course of the new week, I shall have done my part of the Story, and shall hand over the pen to the person who is appointed to follow my lead. Franklin himself, informed me plainly enough that he had held firm to a resolution for once in his life. “Why not wait a day or two longer, and give Miss Rachel another chance?” The foreign varnish appeared to have all worn off Mr. Instead of replying to me in words, he put the letter which her ladyship had addressed to him into my hand. “You will wonder, I dare say” (her ladyship wrote), “at my allowing my own daughter to keep me perfectly in the dark. A Diamond worth twenty thousand pounds has been lost--and I am left to infer that the mystery of its disappearance is no mystery to Rachel, and that some incomprehensible obligation of silence has been laid on her, by some person or persons utterly unknown to me, with some object in view at which I cannot even guess.

Is it conceivable that I should allow myself to be trifled with in this way? She is in a condition of nervous agitation pitiable to see.

I dare not approach the subject of the Moonstone again until time has done something to quiet her. To help this end, I have not hesitated to dismiss the police-officer. The mystery which baffles us, baffles him too. He adds to what I have to suffer; and he maddens Rachel if she only hears his name. My present idea is to take Rachel to London--partly to relieve her mind by a complete change, partly to try what may be done by consulting the best medical advice. Can I ask you to meet us in town? The valuable assistance which you rendered to the inquiry after the lost jewel is still an unpardoned offence, in the present dreadful state of Rachel’s mind.

Moving blindfold in this matter, you have added to the burden of anxiety which she has had to bear, by innocently threatening her secret with discovery, through your exertions. It is impossible for me to excuse the perversity that holds you responsible for consequences which neither you nor I could imagine or foresee. She is not to be reasoned with--she can only be pitied. I am grieved to have to say it, but for the present, you and Rachel are better apart. The only advice I can offer you is, to give her time.” I handed the letter back, sincerely sorry for Mr. Franklin, for I knew how fond he was of my young lady; and I saw that her mother’s account of her had cut him to the heart. “You know the proverb, sir,” was all I said to him. “When things are at the worst, they’re sure to mend. Franklin folded up his aunt’s letter, without appearing to be much comforted by the remark which I had ventured on addressing to him.

The Moonstone has served the Colonel’s vengeance, Betteredge, by means which the Colonel himself never dreamt of!” With that he shook me by the hand, and went out to the pony chaise. It was very miserable to see him leaving the old place, where he had spent the happiest years of his life, in this way.

Penelope (sadly upset by all that had happened in the house) came round crying, to bid him good-bye. I waved my hand as much as to say, “You’re heartily welcome, sir.” Some of the other female servants appeared, peeping after him round the corner. At the last moment, I stopped the pony chaise, and begged as a favour that he would let us hear from him by letter. He didn’t seem to heed what I said--he was looking round from one thing to another, taking a sort of farewell of the old house and grounds. “Tell us where you are going to, sir!” I said, holding on by the chaise, and trying to get at his future plans in that way. “I am going to the devil!” The pony started at the word, as if he had felt a Christian horror of it.

“God bless you, sir, go where you may!” was all I had time to say, before he was out of sight and hearing. I kept my spirits from sinking by sticking fast to my pipe and my ROBINSON CRUSOE. They were all obstinately of opinion that the poor girl had stolen the Moonstone, and that she had destroyed herself in terror of being found out. My daughter, of course, privately held fast to what she had said all along. Her notion of the motive which was really at the bottom of the suicide failed, oddly enough, just where my young lady’s assertion of her innocence failed also. It left Rosanna’s secret journey to Frizinghall, and Rosanna’s proceedings in the matter of the nightgown entirely unaccounted for. There was no use in pointing this out to Penelope; the objection made about as much impression on her as a shower of rain on a waterproof coat. The truth is, my daughter inherits my superiority to reason--and, in respect to that accomplishment, has got a long way ahead of her own father.

Ablewhite’s, came back to us empty. The message informed me that my mistress had determined to take Miss Rachel to her house in London, on the Monday. The written instructions informed the two maids of the clothing that was wanted, and directed them to meet their mistresses in town at a given hour. Most of the other servants were to follow. My lady had found Miss Rachel so unwilling to return to the house, after what had happened in it, that she had decided on going to London direct from Frizinghall. I was to remain in the country, until further orders, to look after things indoors and out. The servants left with me were to be put on board wages. Franklin had said about our being a scattered and disunited household, my mind was led naturally to Mr.

It ended in my writing, by the Sunday’s post, to his father’s valet, Mr. Jeffco (whom I had known in former years) to beg he would let me know what Mr. Franklin had settled to do, on arriving in London. We ended the day of rest, as hundreds of thousands of people end it regularly, once a week, in these islands--that is to say, we all anticipated bedtime, and fell asleep in our chairs. The first of Sergeant Cuff’s prophecies of what was to happen--namely, that I should hear from the Yollands--came true on that day. Turning round, I found myself face to face with the fisherman’s daughter, Limping Lucy. Bating her lame foot and her leanness (this last a horrid draw-back to a woman, in my opinion), the girl had some pleasing qualities in the eye of a man. And a temper reckoned high in the sum total of her defects.

“That’s not a respectful way to speak of any gentleman,” I answered. “If you wish to inquire for my lady’s nephew, you will please to mention him as MR. Franklin Blake.” She limped a step nearer to me, and looked as if she could have eaten me alive. Whenever a woman tries to put you out of temper, turn the tables, and put HER out of temper instead. She poised herself on her sound foot, and she took her crutch, and beat it furiously three times on the ground. He has been the death of Rosanna Spearman!” She screamed that answer out at the top of her voice. One or two of the people at work in the grounds near us looked up--saw it was Limping Lucy--knew what to expect from that quarter--and looked away again.

if she had only thought of the men as I think, she might have been living now!” “She always thought kindly of ME, poor soul,” I said; “and, to the best of my ability, I always tried to act kindly by HER.” I spoke those words in as comforting a manner as I could. The truth is, I hadn’t the heart to irritate the girl by another of my smart replies.

She bent her head down, and laid it on the top of her crutch. I had a plan for our going to London together like sisters, and living by our needles. He ought to have known it. He ought to have taken pity on her.

I meant to take her away from the mortification she was suffering here. We should have had a little lodging in London, and lived together like sisters. I pray Heaven they may begin with HIM.” Here was another of your average good Christians, and here was the usual break-down, consequent on that same average Christianity being pushed too far! All I ventured to do was to keep her to the point--in the hope of something turning up which might be worth hearing. “I want to see him.” “For anything particular?” “I have got a letter to give him.” “From Rosanna Spearman?” “Yes.” “Sent to you in your own letter?” “Yes.” Was the darkness going to lift?

Were all the discoveries that I was dying to make, coming and offering themselves to me of their own accord? I was obliged to wait a moment. Certain signs and tokens, personal to myself, warned me that the detective-fever was beginning to set in again. “I must, and will, see him.” “He went to London last night.” Limping Lucy looked me hard in the face, and saw that I was speaking the truth. Without a word more, she turned about again instantly towards Cobb’s Hole. “Stop!” I said.

Franklin Blake to-morrow. Give me your letter, and I’ll send it on to him by the post.” Limping Lucy steadied herself on her crutch and looked back at me over her shoulder. “I am to give it from my hands into his hands,” she said.

“And I am to give it to him in no other way.” “Shall I write, and tell him what you have said?” “Tell him I hate him. But about the letter?” “If he wants the letter, he must come back here, and get it from Me.” With those words she limped off on the way to Cobb’s Hole.

I followed her, and tried to make her talk.

It was my misfortune to be a man--and Limping Lucy enjoyed disappointing me. The one way left to try was the chance, which might come with the morning, of writing to Mr. I leave you to imagine how I watched for the postman on Tuesday morning. One, from Penelope (which I had hardly patience enough to read), announced that my lady and Miss Rachel were safely established in London.

Franklin had, it appeared, gone straight to his father’s residence. Blake, the elder, was up to his eyes in the business of the House of Commons, and was amusing himself at home that night with the favourite parliamentary plaything which they call “a private bill.” Mr. Franklin into his father’s study. Anything wrong?” “Yes; something wrong with Rachel; I am dreadfully distressed about it.” “Grieved to hear it. But I can’t listen to you now.” “When can you listen?” “My dear boy! Good-night.” Such was the conversation, inside the study, as reported to me by Mr. “Jeffco, see what time the tidal train starts to-morrow morning.” “At six-forty, Mr. Franklin.” “Have me called at five.” “Going abroad, sir?” “Going, Jeffco, wherever the railway chooses to take me.” “Shall I tell your father, sir?” “Yes; tell him at the end of the session.” The next morning Mr.

To what particular place he was bound, nobody (himself included) could presume to guess. Franklin together--at once stopped any further progress of mine on the way to discovery. Whether the letter which Rosanna had left to be given to him after her death did, or did not, contain the confession which Mr. Franklin had suspected her of trying to make to him in her life-time, it was impossible to say. Or it might own the whole truth about the strange proceedings in which Sergeant Cuff had detected her, from the time when the Moonstone was lost, to the time when she rushed to her own destruction at the Shivering Sand. A sealed letter it had been placed in Limping Lucy’s hand, and a sealed letter it remained to me and to every one about the girl, her own parents included. We all suspected her of having been in the dead woman’s confidence; we all tried to make her speak; we all failed. Now one, and now another, of the servants--still holding to the belief that Rosanna had stolen the Diamond and had hidden it--peered and poked about the rocks to which she had been traced, and peered and poked in vain. And the Quicksand, which hid her body, hid her secret too.

My girl’s letter informed me that some great London doctor had been consulted about her young lady, and had earned a guinea by remarking that she had better be amused. Flower-shows, operas, balls--there was a whole round of gaieties in prospect; and Miss Rachel, to her mother’s astonishment, eagerly took to it all. To Penelope’s great regret, he had been most graciously received, and had added Miss Rachel’s name to one of his Ladies’ Charities on the spot. My mistress was reported to be out of spirits, and to have held two long interviews with her lawyer. Certain speculations followed, referring to a poor relation of the family--one Miss Clack, whom I have mentioned in my account of the birthday dinner, as sitting next to Mr. Penelope was astonished to find that Miss Clack had not called yet. I hear you are likely to be turned over to Miss Clack, after parting with me.

I am fast coming to the end of my offences against your cultivated modern taste. Septimus Luker, the well-known dealer in ancient gems, carvings, intagli, &c., &c., applied to the sitting magistrate for advice. After having been sent away by the police, they had returned again and again, and had attempted to enter the house on pretence of asking for charity.

He had only the day before been compelled to dismiss a skilled workman in ivory carving from his employment (a native of India, as we understood), on suspicion of attempted theft; and he felt by no means sure that this man and the street jugglers of whom he complained, might not be acting in concert.

It might be their object to collect a crowd, and create a disturbance in the street, and, in the confusion thus caused, to obtain access to the house. In reply to the magistrate, Mr. Luker admitted that he had no evidence to produce of any attempt at robbery being in contemplation. He could speak positively to the annoyance and interruption caused by the Indians, but not to anything else. The magistrate remarked that, if the annoyance were repeated, the applicant could summon the Indians to that court, where they might easily be dealt with under the Act. As to the valuables in Mr. Luker himself must take the best measures for their safe custody. He would do well perhaps to communicate with the police, and to adopt such additional precautions as their experience might suggest.

The applicant thanked his worship, and withdrew.” One of the wise ancients is reported (I forget on what occasion) as having recommended his fellow-creatures to “look to the end.” Looking to the end of these pages of mine, and wondering for some days past how I should manage to write it, I find my plain statement of facts coming to a conclusion, most appropriately, of its own self. We have gone on, in this matter of the Moonstone, from one marvel to another; and here we end with the greatest marvel of all--namely, the accomplishment of Sergeant Cuff’s three predictions in less than a week from the time when he had made them. Luker must have got together, and that the Moonstone must be now in pledge in the money-lender’s house--I own, I can’t blame you for arriving at that conclusion. In the dark I am compelled to leave you, with my best respects.

Why not take the persons who have gone along with me, so far, up into those regions of superior enlightenment in which I sit myself? In answer to this, I can only state that I am acting under orders, and that those orders have been given to me (as I understand) in the interests of truth.

I am forbidden to tell more in this narrative than I knew myself at the time. Or, to put it plainer, I am to keep strictly within the limits of my own experience, and am not to inform you of what other persons told me--for the very sufficient reason that you are to have the information from those other persons themselves, at first hand. In this matter of the Moonstone the plan is, not to present reports, but to produce witnesses.

I picture to myself a member of the family reading these pages fifty years hence. what a compliment he will feel it, to be asked to take nothing on hear-say, and to be treated in all respects like a Judge on the bench. At this place, then, we part--for the present, at least--after long journeying together, with a companionable feeling, I hope, on both sides. The devil’s dance of the Indian Diamond has threaded its way to London; and to London you must go after it, leaving me at the country-house. Please to excuse the faults of this composition--my talking so much of myself, and being too familiar, I am afraid, with you. I mean no harm; and I drink most respectfully (having just done dinner) to your health and prosperity, in a tankard of her ladyship’s ale.

May you find in these leaves of my writing, what ROBINSON CRUSOE found in his experience on the desert island--namely, “something to comfort yourselves from, and to set in the Description of Good and Evil, on the Credit Side of the Account.”--Farewell. FIRST NARRATIVE Contributed by MISS CLACK; niece of the late SIR JOHN VERINDER CHAPTER I I am indebted to my dear parents (both now in heaven) for having had habits of order and regularity instilled into me at a very early age. In that happy bygone time, I was taught to keep my hair tidy at all hours of the day and night, and to fold up every article of my clothing carefully, in the same order, on the same chair, in the same place at the foot of the bed, before retiring to rest. On the other hand, I have continued to fold my clothes, and to keep my little diary. The former habit links me to my happy childhood--before papa was ruined. The latter habit--hitherto mainly useful in helping me to discipline the fallen nature which we all inherit from Adam--has unexpectedly proved important to my humble interests in quite another way. It has enabled poor Me to serve the caprice of a wealthy member of the family into which my late uncle married.

I am fortunate enough to be useful to Mr.

I am now living, for economy’s sake, in a little town in Brittany, inhabited by a select circle of serious English friends, and possessed of the inestimable advantages of a Protestant clergyman and a cheap market. The whim has seized him to stir up the deplorable scandal of the Moonstone: and I am to help him by writing the account of what I myself witnessed while visiting at Aunt Verinder’s house in London. Pecuniary remuneration is offered to me--with the want of feeling peculiar to the rich. I am to re-open wounds that Time has barely closed; I am to recall the most intensely painful remembrances--and this done, I am to feel myself compensated by a new laceration, in the shape of Mr. Everything was entered (thanks to my early training) day by day as it happened; and everything down to the smallest particular, shall be told here. Blake to suppress what may not prove to be sufficiently flattering in these pages to the person chiefly concerned in them.

He has purchased my time, but not even HIS wealth can purchase my conscience too.* * NOTE. Whatever opinions any of the writers may express, whatever peculiarities of treatment may mark, and perhaps in a literary sense, disfigure the narratives which I am now collecting, not a line will be tampered with anywhere, from first to last. As genuine documents they are sent to me--and as genuine documents I shall preserve them, endorsed by the attestations of witnesses who can speak to the facts. It only remains to be added that “the person chiefly concerned” in Miss Clack’s narrative, is happy enough at the present moment, not only to brave the smartest exercise of Miss Clack’s pen, but even to recognise its unquestionable value as an instrument for the exhibition of Miss Clack’s character. Seeing the shutters opened, and the blinds drawn up, I felt that it would be an act of polite attention to knock, and make inquiries. I sent up a message at once, declining to disturb them, and only begging to know whether I could be of any use. The person who answered the door, took my message in insolent silence, and left me standing in the hall.

She is the daughter of a heathen old man named Betteredge--long, too long, tolerated in my aunt’s family. I sat down in the hall to wait for my answer--and, having always a few tracts in my bag, I selected one which proved to be quite providentially applicable to the person who answered the door.

The tract was one of a series addressed to young women on the sinfulness of dress. Its title was, “A Word With You On Your Cap-Ribbons.” “My lady is much obliged, and begs you will come and lunch to-morrow at two.” I passed over the manner in which she gave her message, and the dreadful boldness of her look.

I thanked this young castaway; and I said, in a tone of Christian interest, “Will you favour me by accepting a tract?” She looked at the title. If it’s written by a man, I beg to inform him that he knows nothing about it.” She handed me back the tract, and opened the door. I waited till the door was shut on me, and slipped the tract into the letter-box. When I had dropped another tract through the area railings, I felt relieved, in some small degree, of a heavy responsibility towards others. The object of this excellent Charity is--as all serious people know--to rescue unredeemed fathers’ trousers from the pawnbroker, and to prevent their resumption, on the part of the irreclaimable parent, by abridging them immediately to suit the proportions of the innocent son.

I had expected to see him in the boardroom, on the Monday evening of which I am now writing, and had proposed to tell him, when we met, of dear Aunt Verinder’s arrival in London. To my great disappointment he never appeared. On my expressing a feeling of surprise at his absence, my sisters of the Committee all looked up together from their trousers (we had a great pressure of business that night), and asked in amazement, if I had not heard the news. I acknowledged my ignorance, and was then told, for the first time, of an event which forms, so to speak, the starting-point of this narrative.

Living in my present isolation, I have no means of introducing the newspaper-account of the outrage into my narrative. All I can do is to state the facts as they were stated, on that Monday evening, to me; proceeding on the plan which I have been taught from infancy to adopt in folding up my clothes. From a poor weak woman who will be cruel enough to expect more? The date--thanks to my dear parents, no dictionary that ever was written can be more particular than I am about dates--was Friday, June 30th, 1848. Godfrey happened to be cashing a cheque at a banking-house in Lombard Street. The name of the firm is accidentally blotted in my diary, and my sacred regard for truth forbids me to hazard a guess in a matter of this kind. On gaining the door, he encountered a gentleman--a perfect stranger to him--who was accidentally leaving the office exactly at the same time as himself.

A momentary contest of politeness ensued between them as to who should be the first to pass through the door of the bank. beware of presuming to exercise your poor carnal reason. Let your faith be as your stockings, and your stockings as your faith.

Both ever spotless, and both ready to put on at a moment’s notice!

I have fallen insensibly into my Sunday-school style. Let me try to be worldly--let me say that trifles, in this case as in many others, led to terrible results. Godfrey home to his residence at Kilburn. The boy handed him a letter, merely mentioning that he had been entrusted with it by an old lady whom he did not know, and who had given him no instructions to wait for an answer. The handwriting was entirely unfamiliar to him.

It requested his attendance, within an hour’s time, at a house in Northumberland Street, Strand, which he had never had occasion to enter before. The object sought was to obtain from the worthy manager certain details on the subject of the Mothers’-Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society, and the information was wanted by an elderly lady who proposed adding largely to the resources of the charity, if her questions were met by satisfactory replies. She mentioned her name, and she added that the shortness of her stay in London prevented her from giving any longer notice to the eminent philanthropist whom she addressed. Ordinary people might have hesitated before setting aside their own engagements to suit the convenience of a stranger. The Christian Hero never hesitates where good is to be done. Godfrey instantly turned back, and proceeded to the house in Northumberland Street. Godfrey’s name, immediately conducted him into an empty apartment at the back, on the drawing-room floor. The other was an ancient Oriental manuscript, richly illuminated with Indian figures and devices, that lay open to inspection on a table. He was looking at the book, the position of which caused him to stand with his back turned towards the closed folding doors communicating with the front room, when, without the slightest previous noise to warn him, he felt himself suddenly seized round the neck from behind.

He had just time to notice that the arm round his neck was naked and of a tawny-brown colour, before his eyes were bandaged, his mouth was gagged, and he was thrown helpless on the floor by (as he judged) two men. A third rifled his pockets, and--if, as a lady, I may venture to use such an expression--searched him, without ceremony, through and through to his skin.

Let me pass over the next few moments, and return to Mr. At the end of it some words were exchanged, among the invisible wretches, in a language which he did not understand, but in tones which were plainly expressive (to his cultivated ear) of disappointment and rage. It advanced up the stairs, and stopped. He looked in amazement at two respectable strangers, and faintly articulated, “What does it mean?” The two respectable strangers looked back, and said, “Exactly the question we were going to ask YOU.” The inevitable explanation followed. Sal volatile and water followed, to compose dear Mr. It appeared from the statement of the landlord and landlady of the house (persons of good repute in the neighbourhood), that their first and second floor apartments had been engaged, on the previous day, for a week certain, by a most respectable-looking gentleman--the same who has been already described as answering the door to Mr. Early on the morning of the outrage, two of the Oriental strangers, accompanied by their respectable English friend, took possession of the apartments. The third was expected to join them shortly; and the luggage (reported as very bulky) was announced to follow when it had passed through the Custom-house, late in the afternoon. Not more than ten minutes previous to Mr.

Nothing out of the common had happened, to the knowledge of the landlord and landlady down-stairs, until within the last five minutes--when they had seen the three foreigners, accompanied by their respectable English friend, all leave the house together, walking quietly in the direction of the Strand. Remembering that a visitor had called, and not having seen the visitor also leave the house, the landlady had thought it rather strange that the gentleman should be left by himself up-stairs. After a short discussion with her husband, she had considered it advisable to ascertain whether anything was wrong. The result had followed, as I have already attempted to describe it; and there the explanation of the landlord and the landlady came to an end.

When the articles were collected, however, nothing was missing; his watch, chain, purse, keys, pocket-handkerchief, note-book, and all his loose papers had been closely examined, and had then been left unharmed to be resumed by the owner. In the same way, not the smallest morsel of property belonging to the proprietors of the house had been abstracted. Taking the worldly point of view, it appeared to mean that Mr. When the Christian hero of a hundred charitable victories plunges into a pitfall that has been dug for him by mistake, oh, what a warning it is to the rest of us to be unceasingly on our guard! How soon may our own evil passions prove to be Oriental noblemen who pounce on us unawares! I could write pages of affectionate warning on this one theme, but (alas!) I am not permitted to improve--I am condemned to narrate. Godfrey to recover in Northumberland Street, and must follow the proceedings of Mr. Returning to his own residence, he found a letter waiting for him, which was described as having been left a short time previously by a boy.

Luker’s customers.

His correspondent announced (writing in the third person--apparently by the hand of a deputy) that he had been unexpectedly summoned to London. He had just established himself in lodgings in Alfred Place, Tottenham Court Road; and he desired to see Mr. The gentleman was an enthusiastic collector of Oriental antiquities, and had been for many years a liberal patron of the establishment in Lambeth. Luker called a cab, and drove off instantly to his liberal patron. Exactly what had happened to Mr. Godfrey in Northumberland Street now happened to Mr.

Once more the respectable man answered the door, and showed the visitor up-stairs into the back drawing-room. He too was aroused from his studies by a tawny naked arm round his throat, by a bandage over his eyes, and by a gag in his mouth. He too was thrown prostrate and searched to the skin. Godfrey; but it had ended as before, in the persons of the house suspecting something wrong, and going up-stairs to see what had happened. Precisely the same explanation which the landlord in Northumberland Street had given to Mr. Godfrey, the landlord in Alfred Place now gave to Mr. Luker hurried to the bank, on the chance that the thieves who had robbed him might ignorantly present themselves with the receipt. Their respectable English friend had (in the opinion of the bankers) looked the receipt over before they attempted to make use of it, and had given them the necessary warning in good time.

Information of both outrages was communicated to the police, and the needful investigations were pursued, I believe, with great energy. Luker had, or had not, trusted the transmission of his precious gem to another person; and poor polite Mr. Godfrey had paid the penalty of having been seen accidentally speaking to him. Add to this, that Mr. Godfrey’s absence from our Monday evening meeting had been occasioned by a consultation of the authorities, at which he was requested to assist--and all the explanations required being now given, I may proceed with the simpler story of my own little personal experiences in Montagu Square.

I was punctual to the luncheon hour on Tuesday. Reference to my diary shows this to have been a chequered day--much in it to be devoutly regretted, much in it to be devoutly thankful for. Certain anxious looks escaped my aunt, all of which took the direction of her daughter.

There was an absence of all lady-like restraint in her language and manner most painful to see. I felt deeply for her poor mother, even before the true state of the case had been confidentially made known to me. Luncheon over, my aunt said: “Remember what the doctor told you, Rachel, about quieting yourself with a book after taking your meals.” “I’ll go into the library, mamma,” she answered. “But if Godfrey calls, mind I am told of it. Her insolence roused no angry feeling in me; I only made a private memorandum to pray for her. When we were left by ourselves, my aunt told me the whole horrible story of the Indian Diamond, which, I am happy to know, it is not necessary to repeat here.

But when her own servants all knew of the loss of the Moonstone, and when some of the circumstances had actually found their way into the newspapers--when strangers were speculating whether there was any connection between what had happened at Lady Verinder’s country-house, and what had happened in Northumberland Street and Alfred Place--concealment was not to be thought of; and perfect frankness became a necessity as well as a virtue.

Some persons, hearing what I now heard, would have been probably overwhelmed with astonishment. For my own part, knowing Rachel’s spirit to have been essentially unregenerate from her childhood upwards, I was prepared for whatever my aunt could tell me on the subject of her daughter. It might have gone on from bad to worse till it ended in Murder; and I should still have said to myself, The natural result! “The doctors recommend plenty of exercise and amusement for Rachel, and strongly urge me to keep her mind as much as possible from dwelling on the past,” said Lady Verinder. “Oh, what heathen advice!” I thought to myself. “In this Christian country, what heathen advice!” My aunt went on, “I do my best to carry out my instructions.

She left me no peace till I had written and asked my nephew Ablewhite to come here. Luker, or some such name--though the man is, of course, a total stranger to her.” “Your knowledge of the world, dear aunt, is superior to mine,” I suggested diffidently. He was not so close on the servant’s heels as to startle us. He was not so far behind as to cause us the double inconvenience of a pause and an open door. “Go to Miss Verinder,” said my aunt, addressing the servant, “and tell her Mr. We both asked him together whether he felt like himself again, after his terrible adventure of the past week.

With perfect tact, he contrived to answer us at the same moment. “What,” he cried, with infinite tenderness, “have I done to deserve all this sympathy? If I could have had my own way, I would have kept my adventure to myself--I shrink from all this fuss and publicity. So glad to hear it! But I really do hope to look in at the Mothers’-Small-Clothes next week. The richness of his deep voice added its own indescribable charm to the interesting business question which he had just addressed to me. In truth, we were almost TOO nicely off for Trousers; we were quite overwhelmed by them. I was just about to say so, when the door opened again, and an element of worldly disturbance entered the room, in the person of Miss Verinder. “I am charmed to see you, Godfrey,” she said, addressing him, I grieve to add, in the off-hand manner of one young man talking to another.

It’s morbid to say this; it’s unhealthy; it’s all that a well-regulated mind like Miss Clack’s most instinctively shudders at. Tell me the whole of the Northumberland Street story directly. I confess it grieved me to see him take Rachel’s hand in both of his own hands, and lay it softly on the left side of his waistcoat. It was a direct encouragement to her reckless way of talking, and her insolent reference to me. “Dearest Rachel,” he said, in the same voice which had thrilled me when he spoke of our prospects and our trousers, “the newspapers have told you everything--and they have told it much better than I can.” “Godfrey thinks we all make too much of the matter,” my aunt remarked. “He has just been saying that he doesn’t care to speak of it.” “Why?” She put the question with a sudden flash in her eyes, and a sudden look up into Mr. On his side, he looked down at her with an indulgence so injudicious and so ill-deserved, that I really felt called on to interfere. “Rachel, darling!” I remonstrated gently, “true greatness and true courage are ever modest.” “You are a very good fellow in your way, Godfrey,” she said--not taking the smallest notice, observe, of me, and still speaking to her cousin as if she was one young man addressing another. You have some private reason for not talking of your adventure in Northumberland Street; and I mean to know it.” “My reason is the simplest imaginable, and the most easily acknowledged,” he answered, still bearing with her.

My dear Godfrey, I am going to make a remark.” “What is it?” “You live a great deal too much in the society of women. You have learnt to talk nonsense seriously, and you have got into a way of telling fibs for the pleasure of telling them. I mean to make you go straight with me. I am brimful of downright questions; and I expect you to be brimful of downright answers.” She actually dragged him across the room to a chair by the window, where the light would fall on his face. I deeply feel being obliged to report such language, and to describe such conduct. Franklin Blake’s cheque on one side and my own sacred regard for truth on the other, what am I to do? She sat unmoved; apparently in no way disposed to interfere. I had never noticed this kind of torpor in her before.

Not a pleasant symptom to remark, be it what it might, at dear Lady Verinder’s age, and with dear Lady Verinder’s autumnal exuberance of figure.

In the meantime, Rachel had settled herself at the window with our amiable and forbearing--our too forbearing--Mr. Luker?” “Humanly speaking, my dear Rachel, there can be no doubt of it.” “And not a trace of them has been discovered?” “Not a trace.” “It is thought--is it not?--that these three men are the three Indians who came to our house in the country.” “Some people think so.” “Do you think so?” “My dear Rachel, they blindfolded me before I could see their faces. Godfrey was, you see, beginning to give way at last under the persecution inflicted on him. Whether unbridled curiosity, or ungovernable dread, dictated Miss Verinder’s questions I do not presume to inquire. Godfrey’s attempting to rise, after giving her the answer just described, she actually took him by the two shoulders, and pushed him back into his chair--Oh, don’t say this was immodest!

“I want to know something about Mr. We have been examined together, as well as separately, to assist the police.” “Mr. A valuable gem, belonging to Mr. Luker’s seal; and only to be given up on Mr. “Some of our private affairs, at home,” she said, “seem to have got into the newspapers?” “I grieve to say, it is so.” “And some idle people, perfect strangers to us, are trying to trace a connexion between what happened at our house in Yorkshire and what has happened since, here in London?” “The public curiosity, in certain quarters, is, I fear, taking that turn.” “The people who say that the three unknown men who ill-used you and Mr.

Luker are the three Indians, also say that the valuable gem----” There she stopped. The extraordinary blackness of her hair made this paleness, by contrast, so ghastly to look at, that we all thought she would faint, at the moment when she checked herself in the middle of her question.

Godfrey made a second attempt to leave his chair. My aunt entreated her to say no more. Mamma, there is not the least reason to be alarmed about me. Clack, you’re dying to hear the end of it--I won’t faint, expressly to oblige YOU.” Those were the exact words she used--taken down in my diary the moment I got home. She turned once more to Mr. With an obstinacy dreadful to see, she went back again to the place where she had checked herself, and completed her question in these words: “I spoke to you, a minute since, about what people were saying in certain quarters. Luker’s valuable gem is--the Moonstone?” As the name of the Indian Diamond passed her lips, I saw a change come over my admirable friend. “There are people who don’t hesitate to accuse Mr. Luker of telling a falsehood to serve some private interests of his own. He has over and over again solemnly declared that, until this scandal assailed him, he had never even heard of the Moonstone.

And these vile people reply, without a shadow of proof to justify them, He has his reasons for concealment; we decline to believe him on his oath.

The tone in which those words were spoken might have melted a stone. But, oh dear, what is the hardness of stone? Nothing, compared to the hardness of the unregenerate human heart! I blush to record it--she sneered at him to his face.

Luker, has not spared You.” Even my aunt’s torpor was roused by those words.

“My dear Rachel,” she remonstrated, “you have really no right to say that!” “I mean no harm, mamma--I mean good. Godfrey, with what appeared to be a sudden pity for him. “I am certain,” she said, “that I have found out the true reason of your unwillingness to speak of this matter before my mother and before me. You have told me what scandal says of HIM. Godfrey--always ready to return good for evil--tried to spare her. “It’s better forgotten, Rachel--it is, indeed.” “I WILL hear it!” she cried out, fiercely, at the top of her voice.

He cast one last appealing look at her--and then he spoke the fatal words: “If you will have it, Rachel--scandal says that the Moonstone is in pledge to Mr. Luker, and that I am the man who has pawned it.” She started to her feet with a scream. Godfrey to my aunt, and from my aunt to Mr. “Don’t speak to me! Don’t touch me!” she exclaimed, shrinking back from all of us (I declare like some hunted animal!) into a corner of the room. I have sacrificed myself--I had a right to do that, if I liked. But to let an innocent man be ruined; to keep a secret which destroys his character for life--Oh, good God, it’s too horrible!

She called to me faintly, and pointed to a little phial in her work-box. There was no time now to think--there was only time to give the medicine. Godfrey unconsciously assisted me in concealing what I was about from Rachel, by speaking composing words to her at the other end of the room. “My reputation stands too high to be destroyed by a miserable passing scandal like this. Let us never speak of it again.” She was perfectly inaccessible, even to such generosity as this. She went on from bad to worse. “I must, and will, stop it,” she said. I know the hand that took the Moonstone.

Take me to the magistrate, Godfrey! Take me to the magistrate, and I will swear it!” My aunt caught me by the hand, and whispered, “Stand between us for a minute or two. “YOUR reputation, dearest Rachel, is something too pure and too sacred to be trifled with.” “MY reputation!” She burst out laughing. The best detective officer in England declares that I have stolen my own Diamond. Ask him what he thinks--and he will tell you that I have pledged the Moonstone to pay my private debts!” She stopped, ran across the room--and fell on her knees at her mother’s feet. I must be mad--mustn’t I?--not to own the truth NOW?” She was too vehement to notice her mother’s condition--she was on her feet again, and back with Mr. Do as I tell you, Godfrey, or I’ll write it to the newspapers I’ll go out, and cry it in the streets!” We will not say this was the language of remorse--we will say it was the language of hysterics. “Show it everywhere--don’t think of ME,” she said, as she gave it to him.

“I am afraid, Godfrey, I have not done you justice, hitherto, in my thoughts. You are more unselfish--you are a better man than I believed you to be. He not only forgot himself so far as to kiss her hand--he adopted a gentleness of tone in answering her which, in such a case, was little better than a compromise with sin. “I will come, dearest,” he said, “on condition that we don’t speak of this hateful subject again.” Never had I seen and heard our Christian Hero to less advantage than on this occasion. She crossed the room to her mother. “They have come to take me to the flower-show,” she said. I have not distressed you, have I?” (Is the bluntness of moral feeling which could ask such a question as that, after what had just happened, to be pitied or condemned? I like to lean towards mercy.

“Go with our friends, and enjoy yourself.” Her daughter stooped, and kissed her. I had left the window, and was near the door, when Rachel approached it to go out. I felt inclined to say a few earnest words.

“What do you mean by pitying me?” she asked in a bitter whisper, as she passed to the door. I’m going to the flower-show, Clack; and I’ve got the prettiest bonnet in London.” She completed the hollow mockery of that address by blowing me a kiss--and so left the room. Permit me to say--my heart bled for her. Returning to my aunt’s chair, I observed dear Mr. Before I could offer to assist him he had found what he wanted. He came back to my aunt and me, with his declaration of innocence in one hand, and with a box of matches in the other. Will you leave Rachel to suppose that I accept the generous self-sacrifice which has signed this paper?

And will you kindly bear witness that I destroy it in your presence, before I leave the house?” He kindled a match, and, lighting the paper, laid it to burn in a plate on the table. We have reduced it to a little harmless heap of ashes; and our dear impulsive Rachel will never know what we have done! For my poor part, I am as light-hearted as a boy!” He beamed on us with his beautiful smile; he held out a hand to my aunt, and a hand to me. I was too deeply affected by his noble conduct to speak. I closed my eyes; I put his hand, in a kind of spiritual self-forgetfulness, to my lips. When I opened my eyes again, it was like descending from heaven to earth. I should like to stop here--I should like to close my narrative with the record of Mr. Blake’s cheque obliges me to tell. The painful disclosures which were to reveal themselves in my presence, during that Tuesday’s visit to Montagu Square, were not at an end yet. Finding myself alone with Lady Verinder, I turned naturally to the subject of her health; touching delicately on the strange anxiety which she had shown to conceal her indisposition, and the remedy applied to it, from the observation of her daughter.

“Drusilla,” she said (if I have not already mentioned that my Christian name is Drusilla, permit me to mention it now), “you are touching quite innocently, I know--on a very distressing subject.” I rose immediately.

Lady Verinder stopped me, and insisted on my sitting down again. “You have surprised a secret,” she said, “which I had confided to my sister Mrs. Ablewhite, and to my lawyer Mr. Bruff, and to no one else. or is your time your own this afternoon?” It is needless to say that my time was entirely at my aunt’s disposal. I have something to tell you which I believe you will be sorry to hear. And I shall have a service to ask of you afterwards, if you don’t object to assist me.” It is again needless to say that, so far from objecting, I was all eagerness to assist her. CHAPTER III Consideration for poor Lady Verinder forbade me even to hint that I had guessed the melancholy truth, before she opened her lips. I waited her pleasure in silence; and, having privately arranged to say a few sustaining words at the first convenient opportunity, felt prepared for any duty that could claim me, no matter how painful it might be. “And, strange to say, without knowing it myself.” I thought of the thousands and thousands of perishing human creatures who were all at that moment spiritually ill, without knowing it themselves.

“Yes.” “I brought Rachel to London, as you know, for medical advice,” she went on. “I thought it right to consult two doctors.” Two doctors! “Yes?” “One of the two medical men,” proceeded my aunt, “was a stranger to me. After prescribing for Rachel, he said he wished to speak to me privately in another room. I expected, of course, to receive some special directions for the management of my daughter’s health. To my surprise, he took me gravely by the hand, and said, ‘I have been looking at you, Lady Verinder, with a professional as well as a personal interest. You are, I am afraid, far more urgently in need of medical advice than your daughter.’ He put some questions to me, which I was at first inclined to treat lightly enough, until I observed that my answers distressed him.

It ended in his making an appointment to come and see me, accompanied by a medical friend, on the next day, at an hour when Rachel would not be at home. The result of that visit--most kindly and gently conveyed to me--satisfied both the physicians that there had been precious time lost, which could never be regained, and that my case had now passed beyond the reach of their art.

For more than two years I have been suffering under an insidious form of heart disease, which, without any symptoms to alarm me, has, by little and little, fatally broken me down. I may live for some months, or I may die before another day has passed over my head--the doctors cannot, and dare not, speak more positively than this. It would be vain to say, my dear, that I have not had some miserable moments since my real situation has been made known to me. But I am more resigned than I was, and I am doing my best to set my worldly affairs in order. If she knew it, she would at once attribute my broken health to anxiety about the Diamond, and would reproach herself bitterly, poor child, for what is in no sense her fault.

Both the doctors agree that the mischief began two, if not three years since. Oh, what Pagan emotions to expect from a Christian Englishwoman anchored firmly on her faith! Little did my poor aunt imagine what a gush of devout thankfulness thrilled through me as she approached the close of her melancholy story. Here was a beloved relative and perishing fellow-creature, on the eve of the great change, utterly unprepared; and led, providentially led, to reveal her situation to Me!

How can I describe the joy with which I now remembered that the precious clerical friends on whom I could rely, were to be counted, not by ones or twos, but by tens and twenties. I took my aunt in my arms--my overflowing tenderness was not to be satisfied, now, with anything less than an embrace. “Oh!” I said to her, fervently, “the indescribable interest with which you inspire me! the good I mean to do you, dear, before we part!” After another word or two of earnest prefatory warning, I gave her her choice of three precious friends, all plying the work of mercy from morning to night in her own neighbourhood; all equally inexhaustible in exhortation; all affectionately ready to exercise their gifts at a word from me. Poor Lady Verinder looked puzzled and frightened, and met everything I could say to her with the purely worldly objection that she was not strong enough to face strangers. My large experience (as Reader and Visitor, under not less, first and last, than fourteen beloved clerical friends) informed me that this was another case for preparation by books.

I possessed a little library of works, all suitable to the present emergency, all calculated to arouse, convince, prepare, enlighten, and fortify my aunt. And marked in pencil where you are to stop and ask yourself, ‘Does this apply to me?’” Even that simple appeal--so absolutely heathenising is the influence of the world--appeared to startle my aunt. She said, “I will do what I can, Drusilla, to please you,” with a look of surprise, which was at once instructive and terrible to see. Not a moment was to be lost. The clock on the mantel-piece informed me that I had just time to hurry home; to provide myself with a first series of selected readings (say a dozen only); and to return in time to meet the lawyer, and witness Lady Verinder’s Will. Promising faithfully to be back by five o’clock, I left the house on my errand of mercy. When no interests but my own are involved, I am humbly content to get from place to place by the omnibus. Permit me to give an idea of my devotion to my aunt’s interests by recording that, on this occasion, I committed the prodigality of taking a cab.

I drove home, selected and marked my first series of readings, and drove back to Montagu Square, with a dozen works in a carpet-bag, the like of which, I firmly believe, are not to be found in the literature of any other country in Europe. If I had presented a pistol at his head, this abandoned wretch could hardly have exhibited greater consternation. Quite useless, I am happy to say! The servant who answered the door--not the person with the cap-ribbons, to my great relief, but the foot-man--informed me that the doctor had called, and was still shut up with Lady Verinder. I was shown into the library to wait too. Bruff looked surprised to see me. He is the family solicitor, and we had met more than once, on previous occasions, under Lady Verinder’s roof. A man, I grieve to say, grown old and grizzled in the service of the world. “Have you come to stay here, Miss Clack?” he asked, with a look at my carpet-bag.

To reveal the contents of my precious bag to such a person as this would have been simply to invite an outburst of profanity. I lowered myself to his own level, and mentioned my business in the house. “My aunt has informed me that she is about to sign her Will,” I answered. “She has been so good as to ask me to be one of the witnesses.” “Aye? If my aunt, possessed of thousands, had remembered poor Me, to whom five pounds is an object--if my name had appeared in the Will, with a little comforting legacy attached to it--my enemies might have doubted the motive which had loaded me with the choicest treasures of my library, and had drawn upon my failing resources for the prodigal expenses of a cab. My meditative silence appeared to weigh upon the spirits of this worldling, and to force him, as it were, into talking to me against his own will. they’re telling a pretty story about that charitable gentleman at my club!” I had passed over the manner in which this person had remarked that I was more than twenty-one, and that I had no pecuniary interest in my aunt’s Will.

But the tone in which he alluded to dear Mr. Godfrey was too much for my forbearance. Feeling bound, after what had passed in my presence that afternoon, to assert the innocence of my admirable friend, whenever I found it called in question--I own to having also felt bound to include in the accomplishment of this righteous purpose, a stinging castigation in the case of Mr. “I live very much out of the world,” I said; “and I don’t possess the advantage, sir, of belonging to a club.

But I happen to know the story to which you allude; and I also know that a viler falsehood than that story never was told.” “Yes, yes, Miss Clack--you believe in your friend. Godfrey Ablewhite, won’t find the world in general quite so easy to convince as a committee of charitable ladies. And he was the first person in the house to go to London afterwards. Those are ugly circumstances, ma’am, viewed by the light of later events.” I ought, I know, to have set him right before he went any farther. I ought to have told him that he was speaking in ignorance of a testimony to Mr.

Godfrey’s innocence, offered by the only person who was undeniably competent to speak from a positive knowledge of the subject. the temptation to lead the lawyer artfully on to his own discomfiture was too much for me. Bruff, getting more and more superior to poor Me, the longer he went on. They go straight to London, and fix on Mr. They have their suspicions that the ‘valuable of great price’ is being shifted from one place to another; and they hit on a singularly bold and complete way of clearing those suspicions up.

Ablewhite’s explanation is, that they acted on blind suspicion, after seeing him accidentally speaking to Mr. Half-a-dozen other people spoke to Mr.

Why were they not followed home too, and decoyed into the trap? Luker, and that the Indians were so uncertain as to which of the two had the disposal of it, that there was no alternative but to search them both.

And public opinion, on this occasion, is not easily refuted.” He said those last words, looking so wonderfully wise in his own worldly conceit, that I really (to my shame be it spoken) could not resist leading him a little farther still, before I overwhelmed him with the truth. “I don’t presume to argue with a clever lawyer like you,” I said. “But is it quite fair, sir, to Mr. Ablewhite to pass over the opinion of the famous London police officer who investigated this case? Not the shadow of a suspicion rested upon anybody but Miss Verinder, in the mind of Sergeant Cuff.” “Do you mean to tell me, Miss Clack, that you agree with the Sergeant?” “I judge nobody, sir, and I offer no opinion.” “And I commit both those enormities, ma’am. I judge the Sergeant to have been utterly wrong; and I offer the opinion that, if he had known Rachel’s character as I know it, he would have suspected everybody in the house but HER.

But true as steel, and high-minded and generous to a fault. Strong language, Miss Clack; but I mean it.” “Would you object to illustrate your meaning, Mr. Suppose you found Miss Verinder quite unaccountably interested in what has happened to Mr. Suppose she asked the strangest questions about this dreadful scandal, and displayed the most ungovernable agitation when she found out the turn it was taking?” “Suppose anything you please, Miss Clack, it wouldn’t shake my belief in Rachel Verinder by a hair’s-breadth.” “She is so absolutely to be relied on as that?” “So absolutely to be relied on as that.” “Then permit me to inform you, Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite was in this house not two hours since, and that his entire innocence of all concern in the disappearance of the Moonstone was proclaimed by Miss Verinder herself, in the strongest language I ever heard used by a young lady in my life.” I enjoyed the triumph--the unholy triumph, I fear I must admit--of seeing Mr. He started to his feet, and stared at me in silence. “If Rachel has testified to his innocence, Miss Clack, I don’t scruple to say that I believe in his innocence as firmly as you do: I have been misled by appearances, like the rest of the world; and I will make the best atonement I can, by publicly contradicting the scandal which has assailed your friend wherever I meet with it.

In the meantime, allow me to congratulate you on the masterly manner in which you have opened the full fire of your batteries on me at the moment when I least expected it. You would have done great things in my profession, ma’am, if you had happened to be a man.” With those words he turned away from me, and began walking irritably up and down the room. Certain expressions dropped from his lips, as he became more and more absorbed in his own thoughts, which suggested to my mind the abominable view that he had hitherto taken of the mystery of the lost Moonstone. He had not scrupled to suspect dear Mr. Godfrey of the infamy of stealing the Diamond, and to attribute Rachel’s conduct to a generous resolution to conceal the crime. Bruff--that explanation of the circumstances was now shown to be utterly wrong.

The perplexity into which I had plunged this high legal authority was so overwhelming that he was quite unable to conceal it from notice. “What a case!” I heard him say to himself, stopping at the window in his walk, and drumming on the glass with his fingers. It seems hardly credible that I should not have been able to let Mr. It seems almost beyond mere mortal perversity that I should have discovered, in what he had just said, a new opportunity of making myself personally disagreeable to him. “Pardon me for intruding on your reflections,” I said to the unsuspecting Mr. “But surely there is a conjecture to make which has not occurred to us yet.” “Maybe, Miss Clack. I own I don’t know what it is.” “Before I was so fortunate, sir, as to convince you of Mr.

Permit me to remind you that Mr. Franklin Blake was also in the house at the time when the Diamond was lost.” The old worldling left the window, took a chair exactly opposite to mine, and looked at me steadily, with a hard and vicious smile. You don’t know how to let well alone.” “I am afraid I fail to follow you, Mr. I’ll adopt your view, on this occasion, before you have time to turn round on me. Blake too. Very good--let’s suspect them together.

It’s quite in his character, we will say, to be capable of stealing the Moonstone. The only question is, whether it was his interest to do so.” “Mr. Franklin Blake’s debts,” I remarked, “are matters of family notoriety.” “And Mr. But there happen to be two difficulties in the way of your theory, Miss Clack. I manage Franklin Blake’s affairs, and I beg to inform you that the vast majority of his creditors (knowing his father to be a rich man) are quite content to charge interest on their debts, and to wait for their money. There is the first difficulty--which is tough enough. You will find the second tougher still.

I have it on the authority of Lady Verinder herself, that her daughter was ready to marry Franklin Blake, before that infernal Indian Diamond disappeared from the house.

But she had confessed to her mother that she loved cousin Franklin, and her mother had trusted cousin Franklin with the secret. So there he was, Miss Clack, with his creditors content to wait, and with the certain prospect before him of marrying an heiress. By all means consider him a scoundrel; but tell me, if you please, why he should steal the Moonstone?” “The human heart is unsearchable,” I said gently. “Who is to fathom it?” “In other words, ma’am--though he hadn’t the shadow of a reason for taking the Diamond--he might have taken it, nevertheless, through natural depravity. If I hear the devil referred to in that manner, I must leave the room.” “I beg YOUR pardon, Miss Clack--I’ll be more careful in my choice of language for the future. All I meant to ask was this. Why--even supposing he did take the Diamond--should Franklin Blake make himself the most prominent person in the house in trying to recover it?

You may tell me he cunningly did that to divert suspicion from himself. I answer that he had no need to divert suspicion--because nobody suspected him. He first steals the Moonstone (without the slightest reason) through natural depravity; and he then acts a part, in relation to the loss of the jewel, which there is not the slightest necessity to act, and which leads to his mortally offending the young lady who would otherwise have married him.

That is the monstrous proposition which you are driven to assert, if you attempt to associate the disappearance of the Moonstone with Franklin Blake. After what has passed here to-day, between us two, the dead-lock, in this case, is complete. Ablewhite’s innocence is equally certain--or Rachel would never have testified to it. And, on the other hand, we are equally sure that somebody has brought the Moonstone to London, and that Mr. I was about to mention this, with all possible mildness, and with every necessary protest against being supposed to cast a slur upon Rachel--when the servant came in to say that the doctor had gone, and that my aunt was waiting to receive us. This stopped the discussion. I took up my bag-full of precious publications, feeling as if I could have gone on talking for hours. We proceeded in silence to Lady Verinder’s room.

Permit me to add here, before my narrative advances to other events, that I have not described what passed between the lawyer and me, without having a definite object in view. I am ordered to include in my contribution to the shocking story of the Moonstone a plain disclosure, not only of the turn which suspicion took, but even of the names of the persons on whom suspicion rested, at the time when the Indian Diamond was believed to be in London. Bruff appeared to me to be exactly what was wanted to answer this purpose--while, at the same time, it possessed the great moral advantage of rendering a sacrifice of sinful self-esteem essentially necessary on my part. I have been obliged to acknowledge that my fallen nature got the better of me. The moral balance is restored; the spiritual atmosphere feels clear once more.

It was hurried over, to my thinking, in indecent haste. Samuel, the footman, was sent for to act as second witness--and the pen was put at once into my aunt’s hand. I felt strongly urged to say a few appropriate words on this solemn occasion. Bruff’s manner convinced me that it was wisest to check the impulse while he was in the room. Bruff folded up the Will, and then looked my way; apparently wondering whether I did or did not mean to leave him alone with my aunt. I had my mission of mercy to fulfil, and my bag of precious publications ready on my lap. He might as well have expected to move St. Paul’s Cathedral by looking at it, as to move Me. There was one merit about him (due no doubt to his worldly training) which I have no wish to deny. I appeared to produce almost the same impression on him which I had produced on the cabman.

HE too uttered a profane expression, and withdrew in a violent hurry, and left me mistress of the field. As soon as we were alone, my aunt reclined on the sofa, and then alluded, with some appearance of confusion, to the subject of her Will. “I mean to GIVE you your little legacy, my dear, with my own hand.” Here was a golden opportunity! In other words, I instantly opened my bag, and took out the top publication. It proved to be an early edition--only the twenty-fifth--of the famous anonymous work (believed to be by precious Miss Bellows), entitled THE SERPENT AT HOME.

The design of the book--with which the worldly reader may not be acquainted--is to show how the Evil One lies in wait for us in all the most apparently innocent actions of our daily lives. The chapters best adapted to female perusal are “Satan in the Hair Brush;” “Satan behind the Looking Glass;” “Satan under the Tea Table;” “Satan out of the Window”--and many others. “Give your attention, dear aunt, to this precious book--and you will give me all I ask.” With those words, I handed it to her open, at a marked passage--one continuous burst of burning eloquence! Poor Lady Verinder (reclining thoughtlessly on her own sofa cushions) glanced at the book, and handed it back to me looking more confused than ever. The doctor----” The moment she mentioned the doctor’s name, I knew what was coming. Over and over again in my past experience among my perishing fellow-creatures, the members of the notoriously infidel profession of Medicine had stepped between me and my mission of mercy--on the miserable pretence that the patient wanted quiet, and that the disturbing influence of all others which they most dreaded, was the influence of Miss Clack and her Books. Precisely the same blinded materialism (working treacherously behind my back) now sought to rob me of the only right of property that my poverty could claim--my right of spiritual property in my perishing aunt.

“The doctor tells me,” my poor misguided relative went on, “that I am not so well to-day. He forbids me to see any strangers; and he orders me, if I read at all, only to read the lightest and the most amusing books. ‘Do nothing, Lady Verinder, to weary your head, or to quicken your pulse’--those were his last words, Drusilla, when he left me to-day.” There was no help for it but to yield again--for the moment only, as before. Any open assertion of the infinitely superior importance of such a ministry as mine, compared with the ministry of the medical man, would only have provoked the doctor to practise on the human weakness of his patient, and to threaten to throw up the case. “Or you might wake, to-morrow morning, with a sense of something wanting, and even this unpretending volume might be able to supply it. The doctor can hardly object to that!” I slipped it under the sofa cushions, half in, and half out, close by her handkerchief, and her smelling-bottle. Every time her hand searched for either of these, it would touch the book; and, sooner or later (who knows?) the book might touch HER.

After making this arrangement, I thought it wise to withdraw. “Let me leave you to repose, dear aunt; I will call again to-morrow.” I looked accidentally towards the window as I said that. Lady Verinder was extravagantly fond of these perishable treasures, and had a habit of rising every now and then, and going to look at them and smell them. may I take a flower?” I said--and got to the window unsuspected, in that way.

Instead of taking away a flower, I added one, in the shape of another book from my bag, which I left, to surprise my aunt, among the geraniums and roses. The happy thought followed, “Why not do the same for her, poor dear, in every other room that she enters?” I immediately said good-bye; and, crossing the hall, slipped into the library. Samuel, coming up to let me out, and supposing I had gone, went down-stairs again. On the library table I noticed two of the “amusing books” which the infidel doctor had recommended. Some groundsel was strewed on a table which stood immediately under the cage. I disposed of another in the back drawing-room, under some unfinished embroidery, which I knew to be of Lady Verinder’s working. I opened my ninth book at a very special passage, and put the fan in as a marker, to keep the place.

The question then came, whether I should go higher still, and try the bed-room floor--at the risk, undoubtedly, of being insulted, if the person with the cap-ribbons happened to be in the upper regions of the house, and to find me out. I went upstairs, prepared to bear anything. It seemed to smile at me; it seemed to say, “Drusilla! Whether she wanted a light, or whether she wanted a drop, there was a precious publication to meet her eye, or to meet her hand, and to say with silent eloquence, in either case, “Come, try me! try me!” But one book was now left at the bottom of my bag, and but one apartment was still unexplored--the bath-room, which opened out of the bed-room. I peeped in; and the holy inner voice that never deceives, whispered to me, “You have met her, Drusilla, everywhere else; meet her at the bath, and the work is done.” I observed a dressing-gown thrown across a chair. Oh, my worldly friends, pursuing the phantom, Pleasure, through the guilty mazes of Dissipation, how easy it is to be happy, if you will only be good!

When I folded up my things that night--when I reflected on the true riches which I had scattered with such a lavish hand, from top to bottom of the house of my wealthy aunt--I declare I felt as free from all anxiety as if I had been a child again. Towards luncheon time--not for the sake of the creature-comforts, but for the certainty of finding dear aunt--I put on my bonnet to go to Montagu Square. Just as I was ready, the maid at the lodgings in which I then lived looked in at the door, and said, “Lady Verinder’s servant, to see Miss Clack.” I occupied the parlour-floor, at that period of my residence in London. I looked into the passage to see which of Lady Verinder’s servants had asked for me. I had always felt a spiritual interest in Samuel, and a wish to try him with a few serious words. On this occasion, I invited him into my sitting-room. When he put the parcel down, it appeared to frighten him. “My lady’s love, Miss; and I was to say that you would find a letter inside.” Having given that message, the fresh-coloured young footman surprised me by looking as if he would have liked to run away. I detained him to make a few kind inquiries. Ablewhite had taken a seat in the carriage, too.

I stopped Samuel at the door, and made a few more kind inquiries. Miss Rachel was going to a ball that night, and Mr. Ablewhite had arranged to come to coffee, and go with her. There was a morning concert advertised for to-morrow, and Samuel was ordered to take places for a large party, including a place for Mr. “All the tickets may be gone, Miss,” said this innocent youth, “if I don’t run and get them at once!” He ran as he said the words--and I found myself alone again, with some anxious thoughts to occupy me. We had a special meeting of the Mothers’-Small-Clothes-Conversion Society that night, summoned expressly with a view to obtaining Mr. Instead of sustaining our sisterhood, under an overwhelming flow of Trousers which quite prostrated our little community, he had arranged to take coffee in Montagu Square, and to goto a ball afterwards! Instead of being present, the life and soul of that struggling Institution, he had engaged to make one of a party of worldlings at a morning concert!

it meant that our Christian Hero was to reveal himself to me in a new character, and to become associated in my mind with one of the most awful backslidings of modern times. To return, however, to the history of the passing day.

On finding myself alone in my room, I naturally turned my attention to the parcel which appeared to have so strangely intimidated the fresh-coloured young footman. Prepared to accept all, and to resent nothing, I opened the parcel--and what met my view? The twelve precious publications which I had scattered through the house, on the previous day; all returned to me by the doctor’s orders! Well might the youthful Samuel shrink when he brought his parcel into my room!

As to my aunt’s letter, it simply amounted, poor soul, to this--that she dare not disobey her medical man. What was to be done now? In the case of my misguided aunt, the form which pious perseverance was next to take revealed itself to me plainly enough. Preparation by clerical friends had failed, owing to Lady Verinder’s own reluctance.

Preparation by books had failed, owing to the doctor’s infidel obstinacy. What was the next thing to try? The next thing to try was--Preparation by Little Notes. In other words, the books themselves having been sent back, select extracts from the books, copied by different hands, and all addressed as letters to my aunt, were, some to be sent by post, and some to be distributed about the house on the plan I had adopted on the previous day. “Dear aunt, may I ask your attention to a few lines?” &c. “Dear madam, pardon the interest taken in you by a true, though humble, friend.” “Dear madam, may a serious person surprise you by saying a few cheering words?” Using these and other similar forms of courteous appeal, we reintroduced all my precious passages under a form which not even the doctor’s watchful materialism could suspect. Soon after two o’clock I was again on the field of pious conflict, addressing more kind inquiries to Samuel at Lady Verinder’s door. She was again in the room in which I had witnessed her Will, resting on the sofa, and trying to get a little sleep. In the fervour of my zeal to distribute the letters, it never occurred to me to inquire about Rachel.

I took it for granted that she and her party of pleasure-seekers (Mr. included) were all at the concert, and eagerly devoted myself to my good work, while time and opportunity were still at my own disposal.

She had evidently not felt herself equal to dealing with a large mass of letters--and she might be daunted by the number of them, if she entered the library later in the day. I put one of my second set of six letters on the chimney-piece by itself; leaving it to attract her curiosity, by means of its solitary position, apart from the rest. The first servant who went in after me would conclude that my aunt had dropped it, and would be specially careful to restore it to her. The field thus sown on the basement story, I ran lightly upstairs to scatter my mercies next over the drawing-room floor. Before I could think of slipping back to the library (in which I was supposed to be waiting), the active young footman was in the hall, answering the door. In my aunt’s state of health, visitors in general were not admitted. To my horror and amazement, the performer of the soft little knock proved to be an exception to general rules. Who could this favoured male visitor possibly be? Almost as soon as I asked myself the question, the answer occurred to me. Who COULD it be but the doctor?

In the case of any other visitor, I should have allowed myself to be discovered in the drawing-room. But my own self-respect stood in the way of my meeting the person who had insulted me by sending me back my books.

I slipped into the little third room, which I have mentioned as communicating with the back drawing-room, and dropped the curtains which closed the open doorway. That is to say, the doctor would be conducted to his patient’s room. I heard the visitor walking restlessly backwards and forwards. I also heard him talking to himself. Was it not the doctor, but somebody else? an unerring instinct told me it was not Mr. Whoever he was, he was still talking to himself.

The words I heard were, “I’ll do it to-day!” And the voice that spoke them was Mr. Godfrey, that I never stopped to ask myself why he was not at the concert. He would do it to-day. He had said, in a tone of terrible resolution, he would do it to-day.

I was so wrought up by the bare idea of such awful eventualities as these in connection with such a man, that I believe I should have rushed from my place of concealment, and implored him in the name of all the Ladies’ Committees in London to explain himself--when I suddenly heard another voice in the room. “Why didn’t you go into the library?” He laughed softly, and answered, “Miss Clack is in the library.” “Clack in the library!” She instantly seated herself on the ottoman in the back drawing-room. We had much better stop here.” I had been in a burning fever, a moment since, and in some doubt what to do next. To show myself, after what I had heard, was impossible.

To retreat--except into the fireplace--was equally out of the question. In justice to myself, I noiselessly arranged the curtains so that I could both see and hear. “Don’t sit on the ottoman,” the young lady proceeded. I like people to be opposite to me when I talk to them.” He took the nearest seat. He was very tall, and many sizes too large for it. I never saw his legs to such disadvantage before. “What did you say to them?” “Just what you said, dear Rachel, to me.” “That mamma was not at all well to-day? And that I didn’t quite like leaving her to go to the concert?” “Those were the words.

They were grieved to lose you at the concert, but they quite understood. In a few days, I feel quite sure, all will be well again.” “I think so, too. I was a little frightened at first, but I think so too. It was very kind to go and make my excuses for me to people who are almost strangers to you. But why not have gone with them to the concert? It seems very hard that you should miss the music too.” “Don’t say that, Rachel! “It’s hard to get over one’s bad habits, Godfrey. But do try to get over the habit of paying compliments--do, to please me.” “I never paid you a compliment, Rachel, in my life. But hopeless love, dearest, always speaks the truth.” He drew his chair close, and took her hand, when he said “hopeless love.” There was a momentary silence. I thought I now understood the words which had dropped from him when he was alone in the drawing-room, “I’ll do it to-day.” Alas!

the most rigid propriety could hardly have failed to discover that he was doing it now.

“Have you forgotten what we agreed on, Godfrey, when you spoke to me in the country? We agreed that we were to be cousins, and nothing more.” “I break the agreement, Rachel, every time I see you.” “Then don’t see me.” “Quite useless! how kindly you told me, only the other day, that my place in your estimation was a higher place than it had ever been yet! Am I mad to build the hopes I do on those dear words?

Am I mad to dream of some future day when your heart may soften to me? I must have THAT to cherish, and to comfort me, if I have nothing else!” His voice trembled, and he put his white handkerchief to his eyes. Nothing wanting to complete the parallel but the audience, the cheers, and the glass of water. Even her obdurate nature was touched. I saw her lean a little nearer to him. I heard a new tone of interest in her next words. My charitable business is an unendurable nuisance to me; and when I see a Ladies’ Committee now, I wish myself at the uttermost ends of the earth!” If the annals of apostasy offer anything comparable to such a declaration as that, I can only say that the case in point is not producible from the stores of my reading.

I thought of the other Societies, too numerous to mention, all built up on this man as on a tower of strength. I thought of the struggling Female Boards, who, so to speak, drew the breath of their business-life through the nostrils of Mr. My young female friends will feel encouraged to persevere, when I mention that it tried even My discipline before I could devour my own righteous indignation in silence. At the same time, it is only justice to myself to add, that I didn’t lose a syllable of the conversation. Rachel was the next to speak. “I wonder whether it would cure you of your unhappy attachment to me, if I made mine?” He started. I confess I started too.

He thought, and I thought, that she was about to divulge the mystery of the Moonstone.

“Would you think, to look at me,” she went on, “that I am the wretchedest girl living? What greater wretchedness can there be than to live degraded in your own estimation? it’s impossible you can have any reason to speak of yourself in that way!” “How do you know I have no reason?” “Can you ask me the question! The disappearance of your precious birthday gift may seem strange; your unexplained connection with that event may seem stranger still.” “Are you speaking of the Moonstone, Godfrey----” “I certainly thought that you referred----” “I referred to nothing of the sort. I can hear of the loss of the Moonstone, let who will speak of it, without feeling degraded in my own estimation. If the story of the Diamond ever comes to light, it will be known that I accepted a dreadful responsibility; it will be known that I involved myself in the keeping of a miserable secret--but it will be as clear as the sun at noon-day that I did nothing mean! You have misunderstood me, Godfrey.

Suppose you were in love with some other woman?” “Yes?” “Suppose you discovered that woman to be utterly unworthy of you? Suppose you were quite convinced that it was a disgrace to you to waste another thought on her? Suppose the feeling she had roused in you (in the time when you believed in her) was not a feeling to be hidden? Oh, how can I find words to say it in!

I must be out of my mind to talk as I am talking now. I must say what is to be said in my own defence. HE doesn’t know--he never will know, what I have told you.

Are you doctor enough, Godfrey, to tell me why I feel as if I was stifling for want of breath? Is there a form of hysterics that bursts into words instead of tears? I have dropped to my right place in your estimation, haven’t I? For God’s sake, go away!” She turned round on a sudden, and beat her hands wildly on the back of the ottoman.

Before I had time to feel shocked, at this, I was horror-struck by an entirely unexpected proceeding on the part of Mr. She sat, either quite thunderstruck, or quite fascinated--I don’t know which--without even making an effort to put his arms back where his arms ought to have been. I was so painfully uncertain whether it was my first duty to close my eyes, or to stop my ears, that I did neither. I attribute my being still able to hold the curtain in the right position for looking and listening, entirely to suppressed hysterics. In suppressed hysterics, it is admitted, even by the doctors, that one must hold something. When such a woman marries, if her husband only wins her esteem and regard, he wins enough to ennoble his whole life. Judge what that place is--when I implore you on my knees, to let the cure of your poor wounded heart be my care. will you honour me, will you bless me, by being my wife?” By this time I should certainly have decided on stopping my ears, if Rachel had not encouraged me to keep them open, by answering him in the first sensible words I had ever heard fall from her lips.

Look for a moment to the future. Is your happiness to be sacrificed to a man who has never known how you feel towards him, and whom you are resolved never to see again? Is it not your duty to yourself to forget this ill-fated attachment?

and is forgetfulness to be found in the life you are leading now? A heart that loves and honours you; a home whose peaceful claims and happy duties win gently on you day by day--try the consolation, Rachel, which is to be found THERE! Let the rest be left, confidently left, to your husband’s devotion, and to Time that heals even wounds as deep as yours.” She began to yield already. Don’t tempt me to be more wretched and more wreckless still!” “One question, Rachel. Have you any personal objection to me?” “I! After what you have just said to me, I should be insensible indeed if I didn’t respect and admire you as well.” “Do you know many wives, my dear Rachel, who respect and admire their husbands? How many brides go to the altar with hearts that would bear inspection by the men who take them there? The truth is, that women try marriage as a Refuge, far more numerously than they are willing to admit; and, what is more, they find that marriage has justified their confidence in it. At your age, and with your attractions, is it possible for you to sentence yourself to a single life?

you are putting something into my head which I never thought of before. I tell you again, I am miserable enough and desperate enough, if you say another word, to marry you on your own terms. Take the warning, and go!” “I won’t even rise from my knees, till you have said yes!” “If I say yes you will repent, and I shall repent, when it is too late!” “We shall both bless the day, darling, when I pressed, and when you yielded.” “Do you feel as confidently as you speak?” “You shall judge for yourself. Do my father and mother live unhappily together?” “Far from it--so far as I can see.” “When my mother was a girl, Rachel (it is no secret in the family), she had loved as you love--she had given her heart to a man who was unworthy of her. I only ask you to give me yourself.” “Take me!” In those two words she accepted him!

He drew her nearer and nearer to him till her face touched his; and then--No! I really cannot prevail upon myself to carry this shocking disclosure any farther. Let me only say, that I tried to close my eyes before it happened, and that I was just one moment too late. To every right-feeling person of my own sex, volumes could say no more. Even my innocence in such matters began to see its way to the end of the interview now. They understood each other so thoroughly by this time, that I fully expected to see them walk off together, arm in arm, to be married. Godfrey’s next words, to be one more trifling formality which it was necessary to observe. He seated himself--unforbidden this time--on the ottoman by her side. “Shall I speak to your dear mother?” he asked.

I wish it to be kept a secret for the present, Godfrey. We have been here alone together quite long enough.” She rose, and in rising, looked for the first time towards the little room in which my martyrdom was going on. “The room is close enough, as it is, without keeping the air out of it in that way.” She advanced to the curtains.

At the moment when she laid her hand on them--at the moment when the discovery of me appeared to be quite inevitable--the voice of the fresh-coloured young footman, on the stairs, suddenly suspended any further proceedings on her side or on mine.

“Miss Rachel!” he called out, “where are you, Miss Rachel?” She sprang back from the curtains, and ran to the door. He said, “Please to come down-stairs, Miss! My lady has fainted, and we can’t bring her to again.” In a moment more I was alone, and free to go down-stairs in my turn, quite unobserved. Godfrey passed me in the hall, hurrying out, to fetch the doctor. “Go in, and help them!” he said, pointing to the room. One look at my aunt’s face (knowing what I knew) was enough to warn me of the dreadful truth.

I kept my thoughts to myself till the doctor came in. He began by sending Rachel out of the room--and then he told the rest of us that Lady Verinder was no more.

At a later hour I peeped into the breakfast-room, and the library. My aunt had died without opening one of the letters which I had addressed to her. I was so shocked at this, that it never occurred to me, until some days afterwards, that she had also died without giving me my little legacy. CHAPTER VI (1.) “Miss Clack presents her compliments to Mr. Franklin Blake; and, in sending him the fifth chapter of her humble narrative, begs to say that she feels quite unequal to enlarge as she could wish on an event so awful, under the circumstances, as Lady Verinder’s death. She has, therefore, attached to her own manuscripts, copious Extracts from precious publications in her possession, all bearing on this terrible subject. Franklin Blake presents his compliments to Miss Clack, and begs to thank her for the fifth chapter of her narrative. In returning the extracts sent with it, he will refrain from mentioning any personal objection which he may entertain to this species of literature, and will merely say that the proposed additions to the manuscript are not necessary to the fulfilment of the purpose that he has in view.” (3.) “Miss Clack begs to acknowledge the return of her Extracts. Franklin Blake that she is a Christian, and that it is, therefore, quite impossible for him to offend her.

Blake, and pledges herself, on the first occasion when sickness may lay him low, to offer him the use of her Extracts for the second time. In the meanwhile she would be glad to know, before beginning the final chapters of her narrative, whether she may be permitted to make her humble contribution complete, by availing herself of the light which later discoveries have thrown on the mystery of the Moonstone.” (4.) “Mr. Franklin Blake is sorry to disappoint Miss Clack. She is requested to limit herself to her own individual experience of persons and events, as recorded in her diary. Later discoveries she will be good enough to leave to the pens of those persons who can write in the capacity of actual witnesses.” (5.) “Miss Clack is extremely sorry to trouble Mr. Her Extracts have been returned, and the expression of her matured views on the subject of the Moonstone has been forbidden. Miss Clack is painfully conscious that she ought (in the worldly phrase) to feel herself put down.

Her object in writing is to know whether Mr. And Miss Clack, on her side, is most anxious that her letters should be produced to speak for themselves.” (6.) “Mr. Franklin Blake agrees to Miss Clack’s proposal, on the understanding that she will kindly consider this intimation of his consent as closing the correspondence between them.” (7.) “Miss Clack feels it an act of Christian duty (before the correspondence closes) to inform Mr. Franklin Blake that his last letter--evidently intended to offend her--has not succeeded in accomplishing the object of the writer. Blake to retire to the privacy of his own room, and to consider with himself whether the training which can thus elevate a poor weak woman above the reach of insult, be not worthy of greater admiration than he is now disposed to feel for it. On being favoured with an intimation to that effect, Miss C.

solemnly pledges herself to send back the complete series of her Extracts to Mr. Franklin Blake.” [To this letter no answer was received.

(Signed) DRUSILLA CLACK.] CHAPTER VII The foregoing correspondence will sufficiently explain why no choice is left to me but to pass over Lady Verinder’s death with the simple announcement of the fact which ends my fifth chapter. Keeping myself for the future strictly within the limits of my own personal experience, I have next to relate that a month elapsed from the time of my aunt’s decease before Rachel Verinder and I met again. In the course of my visit, something happened, relative to her marriage-engagement with Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite, which is important enough to require special notice in these pages. When this last of many painful family circumstances has been disclosed, my task will be completed; for I shall then have told all that I know, as an actual (and most unwilling) witness of events. My aunt’s remains were removed from London, and were buried in the little cemetery attached to the church in her own park.

I was invited to the funeral with the rest of the family. But it was impossible (with my religious views) to rouse myself in a few days only from the shock which this death had caused me. I was informed, moreover, that the rector of Frizinghall was to read the service. Having myself in past times seen this clerical castaway making one of the players at Lady Verinder’s whist-table, I doubt, even if I had been fit to travel, whether I should have felt justified in attending the ceremony. Godfrey informed his father, I suppose, of the new relation in which he stood towards Rachel. Ablewhite senior--another confirmed castaway!--was how to make himself and his authority most agreeable to the wealthy young lady who was going to marry his son. Rachel gave him some trouble at the outset, about the choice of a place in which she could be prevailed upon to reside.

The house in Yorkshire was associated with the scandalous affair of the lost Moonstone.

Her guardian’s own residence at Frizinghall was open to neither of these objections. But Rachel’s presence in it, after her recent bereavement, operated as a check on the gaieties of her cousins, the Miss Ablewhites--and she herself requested that her visit might be deferred to a more favourable opportunity. Ablewhite, to try a furnished house at Brighton. His wife, an invalid daughter, and Rachel were to inhabit it together, and were to expect him to join them later in the season. I describe this aimless flitting about from one place of residence to another--this insatiate restlessness of body and appalling stagnation of soul--merely with the view to arriving at results. The event which (under Providence) proved to be the means of bringing Rachel Verinder and myself together again, was no other than the hiring of the house at Brighton. From the hour of her birth she has never been known to do anything for herself. A more hopeless person, in a spiritual point of view, I have never met with--there is absolutely, in this perplexing case, no obstructive material to work upon.

Aunt Ablewhite would listen to the Grand Lama of Thibet exactly as she listens to Me, and would reflect his views quite as readily as she reflects mine. She found the furnished house at Brighton by stopping at an hotel in London, composing herself on a sofa, and sending for her son. Is the passage from time to eternity to be made in THIS manner?” My aunt answered, “I’ll put on my gown, Drusilla, if you will be kind enough to help me.” What was to be said after that?

“Where is the list,” I asked, “of the servants whom you require?” My aunt shook her head; she hadn’t even energy enough to keep the list. “Rachel has got it, dear,” she said, “in the next room.” I went into the next room, and so saw Rachel again for the first time since we had parted in Montagu Square. If I attached any serious importance to such a perishable trifle as personal appearance, I might be inclined to add that hers was one of those unfortunate complexions which always suffer when not relieved by a border of white next the skin. Hindrances and pitfalls, dear girls, which beset us on our way to higher things! Greatly to my surprise, Rachel rose when I entered the room, and came forward to meet me with outstretched hand.

“I am glad to see you,” she said. “Drusilla, I have been in the habit of speaking very foolishly and very rudely to you, on former occasions.

I hope you will forgive me.” My face, I suppose, betrayed the astonishment I felt at this.

She coloured up for a moment, and then proceeded to explain herself. “In my poor mother’s lifetime,” she went on, “her friends were not always my friends, too. Now I have lost her, my heart turns for comfort to the people she liked. Try to be friends with me, Drusilla, if you can.” To any rightly-constituted mind, the motive thus acknowledged was simply shocking.

Here in Christian England was a young woman in a state of bereavement, with so little idea of where to look for true comfort, that she actually expected to find it among her mother’s friends! Here was a relative of mine, awakened to a sense of her shortcomings towards others, under the influence, not of conviction and duty, but of sentiment and impulse!

Most deplorable to think of--but, still, suggestive of something hopeful, to a person of my experience in plying the good work. I decided, as a useful test, to probe her on the subject of her marriage-engagement to Mr. We discussed family affairs and future plans--always excepting that one future plan which was to end in her marriage. Try as I might to turn the conversation that way, she resolutely declined to take the hint. Any open reference to the question, on my part, would have been premature at this early stage of our reconciliation.

Besides, I had discovered all I wanted to know. This was, of itself, enough to encourage me to take her future conversion in hand--beginning with a few words of earnest warning directed against the hasty formation of the marriage tie, and so getting on to higher things. Looking at her, now, with this new interest--and calling to mind the headlong suddenness with which she had met Mr. I went back at once to the question of the servants wanted for the furnished house. We shall have great difficulty in finding persons of character and capacity to accept a temporary engagement of that sort, if we try in London. Has the house in Brighton been found yet?” “Yes. Godfrey has taken it; and persons in the house wanted him to hire them as servants. In the meantime I will undertake to meet the difficulty about the servants. Your aunt will write a letter to the people of the house----” “She will sign a letter, if I write it for her, which comes to the same thing.” “Quite the same thing. I shall get the letter, and I will go to Brighton to-morrow.” “How extremely kind of you!

Brighton is so lively; you are sure to enjoy it.” In those words the invitation was given, and the glorious prospect of interference was opened before me. In that short interval I had sifted, not the characters only, but the religious views as well, of all the disengaged servants who applied to me, and had succeeded in making a selection which my conscience approved. I also discovered, and called on two serious friends of mine, residents in the town, to whom I knew I could confide the pious object which had brought me to Brighton. One of them--a clerical friend--kindly helped me to take sittings for our little party in the church in which he himself ministered. I borrowed half-a-dozen works, all carefully chosen with a view to Rachel. When these had been judiciously distributed in the various rooms she would be likely to occupy, I considered that my preparations were complete. Sound doctrine in the servants who waited on her; sound doctrine in the minister who preached to her; sound doctrine in the books that lay on her table--such was the treble welcome which my zeal had prepared for the motherless girl! To my indescribable surprise, they were escorted, not by Mr.

“I mean to stay this time.” That reference to the occasion on which I had obliged him to postpone his business to mine, when we were both visiting in Montagu Square, satisfied me that the old worldling had come to Brighton with some object of his own in view. “Godfrey was very much vexed, Drusilla, not to be able to come with us,” said my Aunt Ablewhite. “There was something in the way which kept him in town. Bruff volunteered to take his place, and make a holiday of it till Monday morning. Bruff, I’m ordered to take exercise, and I don’t like it. That,” added Aunt Ablewhite, pointing out of window to an invalid going by in a chair on wheels, drawn by a man, “is my idea of exercise.

And if it’s fatigue you want, I am sure it’s fatigue enough to look at the man.” Rachel stood silent, at a window by herself, with her eyes fixed on the sea. Bruff remained to dinner, and stayed through the evening. The more I saw of him, the more certain I felt that he had some private end to serve in coming to Brighton. He maintained the same appearance of ease, and talked the same godless gossip, hour after hour, until it was time to take leave. He said nothing out of the common to her or to anyone on leaving. He invited himself to luncheon the next day, and then he went away to his hotel. It was impossible the next morning to get my Aunt Ablewhite out of her dressing-gown in time for church.

Her invalid daughter (suffering from nothing, in my opinion, but incurable laziness, inherited from her mother) announced that she meant to remain in bed for the day.

Rachel and I went alone together to church. A magnificent sermon was preached by my gifted friend on the heathen indifference of the world to the sinfulness of little sins. I said to Rachel, when we came out, “Has it found its way to your heart, dear?” And she answered, “No; it has only made my head ache.” This might have been discouraging to some people; but, once embarked on a career of manifest usefulness, nothing discourages Me. “A walk, Miss Rachel, is the thing to cure you. “And the afternoon service, Rachel, begins at three.” “How can you expect me to go to church again,” she asked, petulantly, “with such a headache as mine?” Mr. But what was to be done? Nothing was to be done but to interfere at the first opportunity, later in the day. One look at them told me that the lawyer had said what he wanted to say.

He had (or pretended that he had) an engagement to dinner that day--and he took an early leave of us all; intending to go back to London by the first train the next morning.

“Are you sure of your own resolution?” he said to Rachel at the door. The moment his back was turned, Rachel withdrew to her own room. Her maid (the person with the cap-ribbons) was sent down-stairs to announce that her headache had returned. I ran up to her and made all sorts of sisterly offers through the door. Plenty of obstructive material to work on here! When her cup of tea went up to her the next morning, I followed it in. I noticed my serious friend’s precious publications huddled together on a table in a corner. Had she chanced to look into them?--I asked. Would she allow me to read a few passages of the deepest interest, which had probably escaped her eye?

No, not now--she had other things to think of.

It was plainly necessary to rouse her by some reference to those worldly interests which she still had at heart. “It was news I was interested in hearing--and I am deeply indebted to Mr. Bruff for telling me of it.” “Yes?” I said, in a tone of gentle interest. Her fingers went back to the frilling, and she turned her head sullenly away from me. She merely stimulated me to try again. In my dauntless zeal for her welfare, I ran the great risk, and openly alluded to her marriage engagement. It was evidently on the tip of her tongue to retort on me with the unbridled insolence of former times. GODFREY ABLEWHITE.” It was my turn to start at that. Godfrey Ablewhite is expected here to-day,” she said doggedly.

In the state of my feelings at that moment, I do sincerely believe that she had hit on the only possible way of forcing me to leave the room. By the mere worldly mind my position towards Rachel might have been viewed as presenting difficulties of no ordinary kind. I had reckoned on leading her to higher things by means of a little earnest exhortation on the subject of her marriage.

And now, if she was to be believed, no such event as her marriage was to take place at all. And what would be the effect on Rachel when the stormy interview was over? Her pride would be exhausted, her stubbornness would be exhausted, by the resolute resistance which it was in her character to make under the circumstances. She would turn for sympathy to the nearest person who had sympathy to offer. And I was that nearest person--brimful of comfort, charged to overflowing with seasonable and reviving words. Never had the evangelising prospect looked brighter, to my eyes, than it looked now. She came down to breakfast, but she ate nothing, and hardly uttered a word. After breakfast she wandered listlessly from room to room--then suddenly roused herself, and opened the piano. The music she selected to play was of the most scandalously profane sort, associated with performances on the stage which it curdles one’s blood to think of. It would have been premature to interfere with her at such a time as this.

Being out alone, I took the opportunity of calling upon my two resident friends.

It was an indescribable luxury to find myself indulging in earnest conversation with serious persons. Infinitely encouraged and refreshed, I turned my steps back again to the house, in excellent time to await the arrival of our expected visitor. I entered the dining-room, always empty at that hour of the day, and found myself face to face with Mr.

He made no attempt to fly the place. He advanced to meet me with the utmost eagerness. “Dear Miss Clack, I have been only waiting to see you! Chance set me free of my London engagements to-day sooner than I had expected, and I have got here, in consequence, earlier than my appointed time.” Not the slightest embarrassment encumbered his explanation, though this was his first meeting with me after the scene in Montagu Square. But he knew, on the other hand, that my attendances at the Mothers’ Small-Clothes, and my relations with friends attached to other charities, must have informed me of his shameless neglect of his Ladies and of his Poor.

He sighed gently, and took me by the hand. I should certainly have snatched my hand away, if the manner in which he gave his answer had not paralysed me with astonishment. “You are aware, dear friend, that she was engaged to me?

Well, she has taken a sudden resolution to break the engagement.

Reflection has convinced her that she will best consult her welfare and mine by retracting a rash promise, and leaving me free to make some happier choice elsewhere.

That is the only reason she will give, and the only answer she will make to every question that I can ask of her.” “What have you done on your side?” I inquired. “Have you submitted.” “Yes,” he said with the most unruffled composure, “I have submitted.” His conduct, under the circumstances, was so utterly inconceivable, that I stood bewildered with my hand in his. It is a piece of rudeness to stare at anybody, and it is an act of indelicacy to stare at a gentleman. And I said, as if in a dream, “What does it mean?” “Permit me to tell you,” he replied. “And suppose we sit down?” He led me to a chair. I don’t think he put his arm round my waist to support me--but I am not sure. Godfrey began; “and I have submitted to it without a struggle. “Let me appeal, my dear Miss Clack, to your experience of children,” he went on.

You are greatly struck by it, and you attempt to get at the motive. I don’t know why I made a proposal of marriage to Miss Verinder. You say to the child, Why have you been naughty?

And the little angel puts its finger into its mouth, and doesn’t know. I couldn’t confess it to anybody else. I feel impelled to confess it to YOU!” I began to recover myself. “Tell me--why does a time come when these matrimonial proceedings of mine begin to look like something done in a dream? Why does it suddenly occur to me that my true happiness is in helping my dear Ladies, in going my modest round of useful work, in saying my few earnest words when called on by my Chairman? She has told me with her own lips (this, dear lady, is between ourselves) that she loves another man, and that her only idea in marrying me is to try and put that other man out of her head.

Such are my reflections, Miss Clack, on my way to Brighton. I approach Rachel with the feeling of a criminal who is going to receive his sentence. When I find that she has changed her mind too--when I hear her propose to break the engagement--I experience (there is no sort of doubt about it) a most overpowering sense of relief. A month ago I was pressing her rapturously to my bosom. An hour ago, the happiness of knowing that I shall never press her again, intoxicates me like strong liquor.

And yet there are the facts, as I had the honour of stating them when we first sat down together in these two chairs. I have lost a beautiful girl, an excellent social position, and a handsome income; and I have submitted to it without a struggle. I was deeply touched. The case (if I may speak as a spiritual physician) was now quite plain to me.

It is no uncommon event, in the experience of us all, to see the possessors of exalted ability occasionally humbled to the level of the most poorly-gifted people about them. The object, no doubt, in the wise economy of Providence, is to remind greatness that it is mortal and that the power which has conferred it can also take it away. It was now--to my mind--easy to discern one of these salutary humiliations in the deplorable proceedings on dear Mr.

And it was equally easy to recognise the welcome reappearance of his own finer nature in the horror with which he recoiled from the idea of a marriage with Rachel, and in the charming eagerness which he showed to return to his Ladies and his Poor. His joy was beautiful to see. He compared himself, as I went on, to a lost man emerging from the darkness into the light. He pressed my hands alternately to his lips. In a moment more I should certainly have swooned away in his arms, but for an interruption from the outer world, which brought me to myself again. A horrid rattling of knives and forks sounded outside the door, and the footman came in to lay the table for luncheon. “I shall barely catch the train.” I ventured on asking why he was in such a hurry to get back to town. His answer reminded me of family difficulties that were still to be reconciled, and of family disagreements that were yet to come.

“Business obliges him to leave Frizinghall for London to-day, and he proposes coming on here, either this evening or to-morrow. His heart is set on our marriage--there will be great difficulty, I fear, in reconciling him to the breaking-off of the engagement. I must stop him, for all our sakes, from coming here till he IS reconciled. In equal haste on my side, I ran upstairs to compose myself in my own room before meeting Aunt Ablewhite and Rachel at the luncheon-table. I am well aware--to dwell for a moment yet on the subject of Mr. It has also reached my ears, that his anxiety to recover his place in my estimation has been attributed in certain quarters, to a mercenary eagerness to make his peace (through me) with a venerable committee-woman at the Mothers’ Small-Clothes, abundantly blessed with the goods of this world, and a beloved and intimate friend of my own. In obedience to my instructions, I have exhibited the fluctuations in my opinion of our Christian Hero, exactly as I find them recorded in my diary. In justice to myself, let me here add that, once reinstated in his place in my estimation, my gifted friend never lost that place again.

I write with the tears in my eyes, burning to say more. But no--I am cruelly limited to my actual experience of persons and things. In less than a month from the time of which I am now writing, events in the money-market (which diminished even my miserable little income) forced me into foreign exile, and left me with nothing but a loving remembrance of Mr. Let me dry my eyes, and return to my narrative.

I went downstairs to luncheon, naturally anxious to see how Rachel was affected by her release from her marriage engagement. It appeared to me--but I own I am a poor authority in such matters--that the recovery of her freedom had set her thinking again of that other man whom she loved, and that she was furious with herself for not being able to control a revulsion of feeling of which she was secretly ashamed. I had my suspicions--but it was needless to waste time in idle speculation. I should hear all about the man; I should hear all about the Moonstone. If I had had no higher object in stirring her up to a sense of spiritual things, the motive of relieving her mind of its guilty secrets would have been enough of itself to encourage me to go on. Aunt Ablewhite took her exercise in the afternoon in an invalid chair. “I wish I could fatigue myself till I was ready to drop.” She was in the same humour in the evening. Upon my proposing to read them, she went to the piano. Conceive how little she must have known of serious people, if she supposed that my patience was to be exhausted in that way!

But I knew the importance which his worldly greed attached to his son’s marriage with Miss Verinder--and I felt a positive conviction (do what Mr. Godfrey might to prevent it) that we should see him the next day.

With his interference in the matter, the storm on which I had counted would certainly come, and the salutary exhaustion of Rachel’s resisting powers would as certainly follow. According to my observation of him, he deserves his reputation as long as he has his own way, and not a moment longer. The next day, exactly as I had foreseen, Aunt Ablewhite was as near to being astonished as her nature would permit, by the sudden appearance of her husband. He had barely been a minute in the house, before he was followed, to MY astonishment this time, by an unexpected complication in the shape of Mr. I never remember feeling the presence of the lawyer to be more unwelcome than I felt it at that moment. Ablewhite, addressing himself with his deceptive cordiality to Mr.

“When I left your office yesterday, I didn’t expect to have the honour of seeing you at Brighton to-day.” “I turned over our conversation in my mind, after you had gone,” replied Mr. “And it occurred to me that I might perhaps be of some use on this occasion. I was just in time to catch the train, and I had no opportunity of discovering the carriage in which you were travelling.” Having given that explanation, he seated himself by Rachel. I retired modestly to a corner--with Miss Jane Ann Stamper on my lap, in case of emergency.

Ablewhite stood up in the middle of the room, with his bald head much pinker than I had ever seen it yet, and addressed himself in the most affectionate manner to his niece. And I am here to inquire about it.

Will you honour me by showing me the way to it?” Rachel never moved. Whether she was determined to bring matters to a crisis, or whether she was prompted by some private sign from Mr. Ablewhite the honour of conducting him into her sitting-room.

“Whatever you wish to say to me,” she answered, “can be said here--in the presence of my relatives, and in the presence” (she looked at Mr. He took a chair. The rest of them looked at his face--as if they expected it, after seventy years of worldly training, to speak the truth. I looked at the top of his bald head; having noticed on other occasions that the temper which was really in him had a habit of registering itself THERE. “Some weeks ago,” pursued the old gentleman, “my son informed me that Miss Verinder had done him the honour to engage herself to marry him. Is it possible, Rachel, that he can have misinterpreted--or presumed upon--what you really said to him?” “Certainly not,” she replied. “I did engage myself to marry him.” “Very frankly answered!” said Mr. “And most satisfactory, my dear, so far. In respect to what happened some weeks since, Godfrey has made no mistake.

The error is evidently in what he told me yesterday. I begin to see it now. I should have known better than that at his age.” The fallen nature in Rachel--the mother Eve, so to speak--began to chafe at this. “Nothing in the least like a quarrel took place yesterday between your son and me. If he told you that I proposed breaking off our marriage engagement, and that he agreed on his side--he told you the truth.” The self-registering thermometer at the top of Mr. Ablewhite’s bald head began to indicate a rise of temper. His face was more amiable than ever--but THERE was the pink at the top of his face, a shade deeper already! Is that plain enough?” The tone in which she said those words made it impossible, even for old Mr.

Ablewhite, to mistake her any longer. His thermometer went up another degree, and his voice when he next spoke, ceased to be the voice which is appropriate to a notoriously good-natured man. “I am to understand, then,” he said, “that your marriage engagement is broken off?” “You are to understand that, Mr. Ablewhite, if you please.” “I am also to take it as a matter of fact that the proposal to withdraw from the engagement came, in the first instance, from YOU?” “It came, in the first instance, from me.

And it met, as I have told you, with your son’s consent and approval.” The thermometer went up to the top of the register. I mean, the pink changed suddenly to scarlet. “In justice to myself as his father--not in justice to HIM--I beg to ask you, Miss Verinder, what complaint you have to make of Mr. “You are not bound to answer that question,” he said to Rachel. Bruff took no notice. Rachel thanked him for the advice he had given to her, and then turned to old Mr. Ablewhite--preserving her composure in a manner which (having regard to her age and her sex) was simply awful to see.

“Your son put the same question to me which you have just asked,” she said. I proposed that we should release each other, because reflection had convinced me that I should best consult his welfare and mine by retracting a rash promise, and leaving him free to make his choice elsewhere.” “What has my son done?” persisted Mr. “I have a right to know that. “You have had the only explanation which I think it necessary to give to you, or to him,” she answered. “In plain English, it’s your sovereign will and pleasure, Miss Verinder, to jilt my son?” Rachel was silent for a moment. Bruff took her hand, and gave it a little squeeze. “I have exposed myself to worse misconstruction than that,” she said. The time has gone by, when you could mortify me by calling me a jilt.” She spoke with a bitterness of tone which satisfied me that the scandal of the Moonstone had been in some way recalled to her mind.

“I have no more to say,” she added, wearily, not addressing the words to anyone in particular, and looking away from us all, out of the window that was nearest to her. Ablewhite got upon his feet, and pushed away his chair so violently that it toppled over and fell on the floor.

“I have something more to say on my side,” he announced, bringing down the flat of his hand on the table with a bang. “I have to say that if my son doesn’t feel this insult, I do!” Rachel started, and looked at him in sudden surprise. “I know your motive, Miss Verinder, for breaking your promise to my son! I had no ancestors. I couldn’t point to the time when the Ablewhites hadn’t a shirt to their backs, and couldn’t sign their own names. And now, it comes to the pinch, my son isn’t good enough for YOU. “I am astonished that you have the courage to acknowledge it.” Before Mr.

Ablewhite could find words to answer in, Rachel spoke in a tone of the most exasperating contempt. “Surely,” she said to the lawyer, “this is beneath notice. If he can think in THAT way, let us leave him to think as he pleases.” From scarlet, Mr. He gasped for breath; he looked backwards and forwards from Rachel to Mr. Bruff in such a frenzy of rage with both of them that he didn’t know which to attack first. His wife, who had sat impenetrably fanning herself up to this time, began to be alarmed, and attempted, quite uselessly, to quiet him. I had, throughout this distressing interview, felt more than one inward call to interfere with a few earnest words, and had controlled myself under a dread of the possible results, very unworthy of a Christian Englishwoman who looks, not to what is meanly prudent, but to what is morally right.

At the point at which matters had now arrived, I rose superior to all considerations of mere expediency. Ablewhite,” I said, “one word!” When I first attracted the attention of the company by rising, I could see that he was on the point of saying something rude to me. He stared at me in heathen astonishment. “As an affectionate well-wisher and friend,” I proceeded, “and as one long accustomed to arouse, convince, prepare, enlighten, and fortify others, permit me to take the most pardonable of all liberties--the liberty of composing your mind.” He began to recover himself; he was on the point of breaking out--he WOULD have broken out, with anybody else.

In this emergency, I felt imperatively called upon to have the highest voice of the two. Words of comfort, words of wisdom, words of love--the blessed, blessed, blessed words of Miss Jane Ann Stamper!” I was stopped there by a momentary impediment of the breath. Before I could recover myself, this monster in human form shouted out furiously, “Miss Jane Ann Stamper be----!” It is impossible for me to write the awful word, which is here represented by a blank. I shrieked as it passed his lips; I flew to my little bag on the side table; I shook out all my tracts; I seized the one particular tract on profane swearing, entitled, “Hush, for Heaven’s Sake!”; I handed it to him with an expression of agonised entreaty. He tore it in two, and threw it back at me across the table. But no--it was not to be.

“Who--who--who,” he said, stammering with rage, “who asked this impudent fanatic into the house? They suddenly changed him from a man in a state of red-hot anger to a man in a state of icy-cold contempt. It was plain to everybody that Rachel had said something--short and plain as her answer had been--which gave him the upper hand of her at last. “Miss Clack is here as YOUR guest--in MY house?” It was Rachel’s turn to lose her temper at that. She turned to the lawyer, and, pointing to Mr. “You appear to forget,” he said, addressing Mr. Ablewhite, “that you took this house as Miss Verinder’s guardian, for Miss Verinder’s use.” “Not quite so fast,” interposed Mr. “I have a last word to say, which I should have said some time since, if this----” He looked my way, pondering what abominable name he should call me--“if this Rampant Spinster had not interrupted us.

I beg to inform you, sir, that, if my son is not good enough to be Miss Verinder’s husband, I cannot presume to consider his father good enough to be Miss Verinder’s guardian. Understand, if you please, that I refuse to accept the position which is offered to me by Lady Verinder’s will. In your legal phrase, I decline to act. I have no wish to hurry Miss Verinder. On the contrary, I beg her to remove her guest and her luggage, at her own entire convenience.” He made a low bow, and walked out of the room. Ablewhite’s revenge on Rachel, for refusing to marry his son! She became endowed with energy enough to cross the room!

“My dear,” she said, taking Rachel by the hand, “I should be ashamed of my husband, if I didn’t know that it is his temper which has spoken to you, and not himself. I hope I shall never see you or your tracts again.” She went back to Rachel and kissed her. What can I do for you?” Consistently perverse in everything--capricious and unreasonable in all the actions of her life--Rachel melted into tears at those commonplace words, and returned her aunt’s kiss in silence. “If I may be permitted to answer for Miss Verinder,” said Mr. Ablewhite, to send Penelope down with her mistress’s bonnet and shawl. Leave us ten minutes together,” he added, in a lower tone, “and you may rely on my setting matters right, to your satisfaction as well as to Rachel’s.” The trust of the family in this man was something wonderful to see. But there IS something in good breeding after all!” Having made that purely worldly remark, he looked hard at my corner, as if he expected me to go. My interest in Rachel--an infinitely higher interest than his--riveted me to my chair. He led Rachel to a chair by the window, and spoke to her there. If it was worth while to contest the question with such a man, we might soon show him that he is not to have things all his own way.

You were quite right in what you said just now; he is beneath our notice.” He stopped, and looked round at my corner.

“You know,” he resumed, turning back again to Rachel, “that it was part of your poor mother’s fine nature always to see the best of the people about her, and never the worst. Ablewhite myself, and I induced your mother to let me insert a clause in the will, empowering her executors, in certain events, to consult with me about the appointment of a new guardian. One of those events has happened to-day; and I find myself in a position to end all these dry business details, I hope agreeably, with a message from my wife. And will you remain under my roof, and be one of my family, until we wise people have laid our heads together, and have settled what is to be done next?” At those words, I rose to interfere. If I suffered the arrangement thus made between them to be carried out--if she once passed the threshold of Mr. Bruff’s door--farewell to the fondest hope of my life, the hope of bringing my lost sheep back to the fold! I cast the miserable trammels of worldly discretion to the winds, and spoke with the fervour that filled me, in the words that came first. “Stop!” I said--“stop!

you are not related to her, and I am.

I invite her--I summon the executors to appoint me guardian. Rachel, dearest Rachel, I offer you my modest home; come to London by the next train, love, and share it with me!” Mr. Rachel looked at me with a cruel astonishment which she made no effort to conceal. “I shall hope to visit you whenever I happen to be in London. “I can’t part with you, Rachel--I can’t part with you!” I tried to fold her in my arms. “Haven’t you seen yet, that my heart yearns to make a Christian of you? Has no inner voice told you that I am trying to do for you, what I was trying to do for your dear mother when death snatched her out of my hands?” Rachel advanced a step nearer, and looked at me very strangely. “I don’t understand your reference to my mother,” she said. “Miss Clack, will you have the goodness to explain yourself?” Before I could answer, Mr.

Bruff came forward, and offering his arm to Rachel, tried to lead her out of the room. “And Miss Clack had better not explain herself.” If I had been a stock or a stone, such an interference as this must have roused me into testifying to the truth. Bruff aside indignantly with my own hand, and, in solemn and suitable language, I stated the view with which sound doctrine does not scruple to regard the awful calamity of dying unprepared. Rachel started back from me--I blush to write--with a scream of horror. “Come away!” she said to Mr. And that wretch stands there, and tries to make me doubt that my mother, who was an angel on earth, is an angel in heaven now! Don’t stop to talk about it! It stifles me to breathe the same air with her! It frightens me to feel that we are in the same room together!” Deaf to all remonstrance, she ran to the door. “Pack my things,” she said, “and bring them to Mr.

Bruff’s.” I attempted to approach her--I was shocked and grieved, but, it is needless to say, not offended. I only wished to say to her, “May your hard heart be softened! I freely forgive you!” She pulled down her veil, and tore her shawl away from my hand, and, hurrying out, shut the door in my face. I bore the insult with my customary fortitude. I remember it now with my customary superiority to all feeling of offence. Bruff had his parting word of mockery for me, before he too hurried out, in his turn.

“It’s easy to see who has set them all by the ears together,” she said. “I’m only a poor servant--but I declare I’m ashamed of you!” She too went out, and banged the door after her. Is there more to be added to this plain statement of facts--to this touching picture of a Christian persecuted by the world? And when I die--to complete the return on my part of good for evil--she will have the LIFE, LETTERS, AND LABOURS OF MISS JANE ANN STAMPER left her as a legacy by my will.

SECOND NARRATIVE Contributed by MATHEW BRUFF, Solicitor, of Gray’s Inn Square CHAPTER I My fair friend, Miss Clack, having laid down the pen, there are two reasons for my taking it up next, in my turn. In the first place, I am in a position to throw the necessary light on certain points of interest which have thus far been left in the dark. Miss Verinder had her own private reason for breaking her marriage engagement--and I was at the bottom of it.

Godfrey Ablewhite had his own private reason for withdrawing all claim to the hand of his charming cousin--and I discovered what it was. In the second place, it was my good or ill fortune, I hardly know which, to find myself personally involved--at the period of which I am now writing--in the mystery of the Indian Diamond. Add to this, that I met with the celebrated traveller, Mr. Murthwaite, the day afterwards, and that I held a conversation with him on the subject of the Moonstone, which has a very important bearing on later events. And there you have the statement of my claims to fill the position which I occupy in these pages. The true story of the broken marriage engagement comes first in point of time, and must therefore take the first place in the present narrative. Tracing my way back along the chain of events, from one end to the other, I find it necessary to open the scene, oddly enough as you will think, at the bedside of my excellent client and friend, the late Sir John Verinder. Sir John had his share--perhaps rather a large share--of the more harmless and amiable of the weaknesses incidental to humanity. Among these, I may mention as applicable to the matter in hand, an invincible reluctance--so long as he enjoyed his usual good health--to face the responsibility of making his will.

Lady Verinder exerted her influence to rouse him to a sense of duty in this matter; and I exerted my influence.

He admitted the justice of our views--but he went no further than that, until he found himself afflicted with the illness which ultimately brought him to his grave.

Then, I was sent for at last, to take my client’s instructions on the subject of his will. They proved to be the simplest instructions I had ever received in the whole of my professional career. And then I’ll go to sleep again.” He looked on with great interest while I collected pens, ink, and paper.

I bowed and took a dip of ink, and waited for my instructions. “I leave everything to my wife,” said Sir John. “That’s all.” He turned round on his pillow, and composed himself to sleep again. I was obliged to disturb him. “Am I to understand,” I asked, “that you leave the whole of the property, of every sort and description, of which you die possessed, absolutely to Lady Verinder?” “Yes,” said Sir John. Why can’t you put it shorter, and let me go to sleep again? Everything to my wife. In the majority of cases, I am afraid I should have felt it my duty to my client to ask him to reconsider his Will. In the case of Sir John, I knew Lady Verinder to be, not only worthy of the unreserved trust which her husband had placed in her (all good wives are worthy of that)--but to be also capable of properly administering a trust (which, in my experience of the fair sex, not one in a thousand of them is competent to do). The view she took of her position was so thoroughly sound and sensible, that I was relieved of all necessity for advising her.

My responsibility began and ended with shaping her instructions into the proper legal form. The Will remained in its fireproof box at my office, through more years than I like to reckon up.

It was not till the summer of eighteen hundred and forty-eight that I found occasion to look at it again under very melancholy circumstances. At the date I have mentioned, the doctors pronounced the sentence on poor Lady Verinder, which was literally a sentence of death. I was the first person whom she informed of her situation; and I found her anxious to go over her Will again with me. It was impossible to improve the provisions relating to her daughter. But, in the lapse of time, her wishes in regard to certain minor legacies, left to different relatives, had undergone some modification; and it became necessary to add three or four Codicils to the original document. Having done this at once, for fear of accident, I obtained her ladyship’s permission to embody her recent instructions in a second Will. My object was to avoid certain inevitable confusions and repetitions which now disfigured the original document, and which, to own the truth, grated sadly on my professional sense of the fitness of things. The execution of this second Will has been described by Miss Clack, who was so obliging as to witness it.

The only changes introduced related to the appointment of a guardian, and to certain provisions concerning that appointment, which were made under my advice. On Lady Verinder’s death, the Will was placed in the hands of my proctor to be “proved” (as the phrase is) in the usual way. I happened to be looking in at my friend the proctor’s office, and I observed that he received me with an appearance of greater interest than usual.

“What do you think I heard at Doctors’ Commons this morning? (I shall perhaps do well if I explain in this place, for the benefit of the few people who don’t know it already, that the law allows all Wills to be examined at Doctors’ Commons by anybody who applies, on the payment of a shilling fee.) “Did you hear who asked for the Will?” I asked. The Will has not been copied yet into the great Folio Registers. So there was no alternative but to depart from the usual course, and to let him see the original document.

“I shall find out,” I answered, “before I am a day older.” With that I went back at once to my own office.

If any other firm of solicitors had been concerned in this unaccountable examination of my deceased client’s Will, I might have found some difficulty in making the necessary discovery.

Smalley’s; and, owing to this sort of indirect connection with me, Skipp and Smalley had, for some years past, picked up the crumbs that fell from my table, in the shape of cases brought to my office, which, for various reasons, I did not think it worth while to undertake.

My professional patronage was, in this way, of some importance to the firm. I intended, if necessary, to remind them of that patronage, on the present occasion. The moment I got back I spoke to my clerk; and, after telling him what had happened, I sent him to his brother’s office, “with Mr. Bruff’s compliments, and he would be glad to know why Messrs.

Skipp and Smalley had found it necessary to examine Lady Verinder’s will.” This message brought Mr. Smalley back to my office in company with his brother. And then he put it to me, whether it would not be a breach of professional confidence on his part to say more. Worse still, I declined to consider any additional information offered me, as a secret placed in my keeping: I claimed perfect freedom to use my own discretion. Worse even than that, I took an unwarrantable advantage of my position. “Choose, sir,” I said to Mr. That was enough for me--I wanted to know no more. Having reached this point in my narrative, it now becomes necessary to place the reader of these lines--so far as Lady Verinder’s Will is concerned--on a footing of perfect equality, in respect of information, with myself.

Her mother’s excellent sense, and my long experience, had combined to relieve her of all responsibility, and to guard her from all danger of becoming the victim in the future of some needy and unscrupulous man. They would have the houses in London and in Yorkshire to live in, and they would have the handsome income--and that was all. When I came to think over what I had discovered, I was sorely perplexed what to do next. Hardly a week had passed since I had heard (to my surprise and distress) of Miss Verinder’s proposed marriage. I had the sincerest admiration and affection for her; and I had been inexpressibly grieved when I heard that she was about to throw herself away on Mr. And now, here was the man--whom I had always believed to be a smooth-tongued impostor--justifying the very worst that I had thought of him, and plainly revealing the mercenary object of the marriage, on his side! The first consideration which now naturally occurred to me was this. Godfrey Ablewhite hold to his engagement, after what his lawyer had discovered for him? If that position was not a desperate one, it would be well worth his while to marry Miss Verinder for her income alone.

If, on the other hand, he stood in urgent need of realising a large sum by a given time, then Lady Verinder’s Will would exactly meet the case, and would preserve her daughter from falling into a scoundrel’s hands. In the latter event, there would be no need for me to distress Miss Rachel, in the first days of her mourning for her mother, by an immediate revelation of the truth. Ablewhite and Miss Verinder to be staying. They informed me that they were going to Brighton the next day, and that an unexpected obstacle prevented Mr. I at once proposed to take his place.

While I was only thinking of Rachel Verinder, it was possible to hesitate. When I actually saw her, my mind was made up directly, come what might of it, to tell her the truth. “May I speak to you,” I asked, “about your marriage engagement?” “Yes,” she said, indifferently, “if you have nothing more interesting to talk about.” “Will you forgive an old friend and servant of your family, Miss Rachel, if I venture on asking whether your heart is set on this marriage?” “I am marrying in despair, Mr. Bruff--on the chance of dropping into some sort of stagnant happiness which may reconcile me to my life.” Strong language!

But I had my own object in view, and I declined (as we lawyers say) to pursue the question into its side issues. “HIS heart must be set on the marriage at any rate?” “He says so, and I suppose I ought to believe him. He would hardly marry me, after what I have owned to him, unless he was fond of me.” Poor thing! The task I had set myself began to look like a harder task than I had bargained for. “To hear you speak of your future husband as if you were not quite sure of the sincerity of his attachment.

Are you conscious of any reason in your own mind for doubting him?” Her astonishing quickness of perception, detected a change in my voice, or my manner, when I put that question, which warned her that I had been speaking all along with some ulterior object in view. She stopped, and taking her arm out of mine, looked me searchingly in the face. Bruff,” she said, “you have something to tell me about Godfrey Ablewhite. Tell it.” I knew her well enough to take her at her word. I told it. She put her arm again into mine, and walked on with me slowly. I made no attempt to disturb her. My experience of her disposition warned me, on this, as on former occasions, to give her time.

The first instinct of girls in general, on being told of anything which interests them, is to ask a multitude of questions, and then to run off, and talk it all over with some favourite friend. Rachel Verinder’s first instinct, under similar circumstances, was to shut herself up in her own mind, and to think it over by herself. In a woman it has a serious drawback of morally separating her from the mass of her sex, and so exposing her to misconstruction by the general opinion. The self-dependence in HER character, was one of its virtues in my estimation; partly, no doubt, because I sincerely admired and liked her; partly, because the view I took of her connexion with the loss of the Moonstone was based on my own special knowledge of her disposition. Badly as appearances might look, in the matter of the Diamond--shocking as it undoubtedly was to know that she was associated in any way with the mystery of an undiscovered theft--I was satisfied nevertheless that she had done nothing unworthy of her, because I was also satisfied that she had not stirred a step in the business, without shutting herself up in her own mind, and thinking it over first. “I owe much already to your kindness,” she said. “And I feel more deeply indebted to it now than ever. If you hear any rumours of my marriage when you get back to London contradict them at once, on my authority.” “Have you resolved to break your engagement?” I asked. “Can you doubt it?” she returned proudly, “after what you have told me!” “My dear Miss Rachel, you are very young--and you may find more difficulty in withdrawing from your present position than you anticipate. It distressed me, it did indeed distress me, to hear her say that.

The impulse to help her got the better of any sense of my own unfitness which I might have felt under the circumstances; and I stated such ideas on the subject as occurred to me on the spur of the moment, to the best of my ability. But this was the first occasion on which I had ever found myself advising a young lady how to obtain her release from a marriage engagement. The suggestion I offered amounted briefly to this.

I recommended her to tell Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite--at a private interview, of course--that he had, to her certain knowledge, betrayed the mercenary nature of the motive on his side. She was then to add that their marriage, after what she had discovered, was a simple impossibility--and she was to put it to him, whether he thought it wisest to secure her silence by falling in with her views, or to force her, by opposing them, to make the motive under which she was acting generally known. If he attempted to defend himself, or to deny the facts, she was, in that event, to refer him to ME.

She then thanked me very prettily for my advice, but informed me at the same time that it was impossible for her to follow it. “May I ask,” I said, “what objection you see to following it?” She hesitated--and then met me with a question on her side. “Suppose you were asked to express your opinion of Mr. I have promised to marry that man. If I say what you tell me to say to him--I am owning that I have degraded myself to his face. The shame of it would be nothing to HIM. But the shame of it would be unendurable to me.” Here was another of the marked peculiarities in her character disclosing itself to me without reserve. Here was her sensitive horror of the bare contact with anything mean, blinding her to every consideration of what she owed to herself, hurrying her into a false position which might compromise her in the estimation of all her friends! Up to this time, I had been a little diffident about the propriety of the advice I had given to her.

“He has been intimate enough with me to ask me to be his wife. He has stood high enough in my estimation to obtain my consent. I can’t tell him to his face that he is the most contemptible of living creatures, after that!” “But, my dear Miss Rachel,” I remonstrated, “it’s equally impossible for you to tell him that you withdraw from your engagement without giving some reason for it.” “I shall say that I have thought it over, and that I am satisfied it will be best for both of us if we part.

“No more than that?” “No more.” “Have you thought of what he may say, on his side?” “He may say what he pleases.” It was impossible not to admire her delicacy and her resolution, and it was equally impossible not to feel that she was putting herself in the wrong.

I entreated her to consider her own position. I reminded her that she would be exposing herself to the most odious misconstruction of her motives. “I have done it already.” “What do you mean?” “You have forgotten the Moonstone, Mr. It set me trying to trace the explanation of her conduct, at the time of the loss of the Moonstone, out of the strange avowal which had just escaped her. I tried a last remonstrance before we returned to the house. She was interesting; she was admirable; she was deeply to be pitied. I made her promise to write to me the moment she had any news to send. And I went back to my business in London, with a mind exceedingly ill at ease. On the evening of my return, before it was possible for me to receive my promised letter, I was surprised by a visit from Mr. With the view I already took of the case, the bare fact stated in the words that I have underlined, revealed Mr.

Rachel’s income, which would have helped him to anything else, would not help him here; and Rachel had accordingly released herself, without encountering a moment’s serious opposition on his part.

If I am told that this is a mere speculation, I ask, in my turn, what other theory will account for his giving up a marriage which would have maintained him in splendour for the rest of his life?

He came, of course, to know whether I could give him any explanation of Miss Verinder’s extraordinary conduct. It is needless to say that I was quite unable to afford him the information he wanted. Both his looks and his language convinced me that Miss Verinder would find him a merciless man to deal with, when he joined the ladies at Brighton the next day. I had a restless night, considering what I ought to do next. Ablewhite proved to be, are items of information which (as I am told) have already been put tidily in their proper places, by that exemplary person, Miss Clack. I have only to add--in completion of her narrative--that Miss Verinder found the quiet and repose which she sadly needed, poor thing, in my house at Hampstead.

My wife and daughters were charmed with her; and, when the executors decided on the appointment of a new guardian, I feel sincere pride and pleasure in recording that my guest and my family parted like old friends, on either side. CHAPTER II The next thing I have to do, is to present such additional information as I possess on the subject of the Moonstone, or, to speak more correctly, on the subject of the Indian plot to steal the Diamond. The little that I have to tell is (as I think I have already said) of some importance, nevertheless, in respect of its bearing very remarkably on events which are still to come. About a week or ten days after Miss Verinder had left us, one of my clerks entered the private room at my office, with a card in his hand, and informed me that a gentleman was below, who wanted to speak to me.

It was followed by a line written in English at the bottom of the card, which I remember perfectly well: “Recommended by Mr. Luker’s position presuming to recommend anybody to me, took me so completely by surprise, that I sat silent for the moment, wondering whether my own eyes had not deceived me. So dark in the complexion that we all set him down in the office for an Indian, or something of that sort.” Associating the clerk’s idea with the line inscribed on the card in my hand, I thought it possible that the Moonstone might be at the bottom of Mr.

To the astonishment of my clerk, I at once decided on granting an interview to the gentleman below. In justification of the highly unprofessional sacrifice to mere curiosity which I thus made, permit me to remind anybody who may read these lines, that no living person (in England, at any rate) can claim to have had such an intimate connexion with the romance of the Indian Diamond as mine has been. I drew his Will, leaving the Moonstone to Miss Verinder. I persuaded his executor to act, on the chance that the jewel might prove to be a valuable acquisition to the family.

Franklin Blake’s scruples, and induced him to be the means of transporting the Diamond to Lady Verinder’s house. If anyone can claim a prescriptive right of interest in the Moonstone, and in everything connected with it, I think it is hardly to be denied that I am the man. But his swarthy complexion, his long lithe figure, and his grave and graceful politeness of manner were enough to betray his Oriental origin to any intelligent eyes that looked at him. I pointed to a chair, and begged to be informed of the nature of his business with me. “I have come, sir,” he said, “to ask you to lend me some money.

And I leave this as an assurance to you that my debt will be paid back.” I pointed to his card. “And you apply to me,” I rejoined, “at Mr. Luker informed me, sir, that he had no money to lend.” “And so he recommended you to come to me?” The Indian, in his turn, pointed to the card. Briefly answered, and thoroughly to the purpose!

If the Moonstone had been in my possession, this Oriental gentleman would have murdered me, I am well aware, without a moment’s hesitation. At the same time, and barring that slight drawback, I am bound to testify that he was the perfect model of a client. “I am sorry,” I said, “that you should have had the trouble of coming to me. I am trusted, like other men in my profession, with money to lend. But I never lend it to strangers, and I never lend it on such a security as you have produced.” Far from attempting, as other people would have done, to induce me to relax my own rules, the Indian only made me another bow, and wrapped up his box in its two coverings without a word of protest. He rose--this admirable assassin rose to go, the moment I had answered him! “Will your condescension towards a stranger, excuse my asking one question,” he said, “before I take my leave?” I bowed on my side.

“Supposing, sir, it had been possible (and customary) for you to lend me the money,” he said, “in what space of time would it have been possible (and customary) for me to pay it back?” “According to the usual course pursued in this country,” I answered, “you would have been entitled to pay the money back (if you liked) in one year’s time from the date at which it was first advanced to you.” The Indian made me a last bow, the lowest of all--and suddenly and softly walked out of the room. As soon as I was composed enough to think, I arrived at one distinct conclusion in reference to the otherwise incomprehensible visitor who had favoured me with a call. He had not shown the slightest sign of attempting to fix anything that I had said to him in his mind, until I mentioned the time at which it was customary to permit the earliest repayment, on the part of a debtor, of money that had been advanced as a loan. The inference I drew from this was--that he had a special purpose in asking me his last question, and a special interest in hearing my answer to it.

The more carefully I reflected on what had passed between us, the more shrewdly I suspected the production of the casket, and the application for the loan, of having been mere formalities, designed to pave the way for the parting inquiry addressed to me. I had satisfied myself of the correctness of this conclusion--and was trying to get on a step further, and penetrate the Indian’s motives next--when a letter was brought to me, which proved to be from no less a person that Mr. He asked my pardon in terms of sickening servility, and assured me that he could explain matters to my satisfaction, if I would honour him by consenting to a personal interview. I made another unprofessional sacrifice to mere curiosity. Luker was, in every respect, such an inferior creature to the Indian--he was so vulgar, so ugly, so cringing, and so prosy--that he is quite unworthy of being reported, at any length, in these pages.

The substance of what he had to tell me may be fairly stated as follows: The day before I had received the visit of the Indian, Mr. Luker had instantly identified his visitor with the chief of the three Indians, who had formerly annoyed him by loitering about his house, and who had left him no alternative but to consult a magistrate. From this startling discovery he had rushed to the conclusion (naturally enough I own) that he must certainly be in the company of one of the three men, who had blindfolded him, gagged him, and robbed him of his banker’s receipt. He produced the little casket, and made exactly the same application which he had afterwards made to me.

The Indian had thereupon asked to be informed of the best and safest person to apply to for the loan he wanted. Luker had answered that the best and safest person, in such cases, was usually a respectable solicitor. Asked to name some individual of that character and profession, Mr. Luker had mentioned me--for the one simple reason that, in the extremity of his terror, mine was the first name which occurred to him. Before he left me, I detained him to make one inquiry. The Indian had put precisely the same question to Mr. Luker, at parting, which he had put to me; receiving of course, the same answer as the answer which I had given him.

Luker’s explanation gave me no assistance towards solving the problem. My own unaided ingenuity, consulted next, proved quite unequal to grapple with the difficulty. I had a dinner engagement that evening; and I went upstairs, in no very genial frame of mind, little suspecting that the way to my dressing-room and the way to discovery, meant, on this particular occasion, one and the same thing. CHAPTER III The prominent personage among the guests at the dinner party I found to be Mr. On his appearance in England, after his wanderings, society had been greatly interested in the traveller, as a man who had passed through many dangerous adventures, and who had escaped to tell the tale. He had now announced his intention of returning to the scene of his exploits, and of penetrating into regions left still unexplored. This magnificent indifference to placing his safety in peril for the second time, revived the flagging interest of the worshippers in the hero. When the gentlemen were left by themselves in the dining-room, I found myself sitting next to Mr.

The guests present being all English, it is needless to say that, as soon as the wholesome check exercised by the presence of the ladies was removed, the conversation turned on politics as a necessary result. In respect to this all-absorbing national topic, I happen to be one of the most un-English Englishmen living. As a general rule, political talk appears to me to be of all talk the most dreary and the most profitless. It struck me as an experiment worth attempting, to try whether a judicious allusion to the subject of the Moonstone would keep him awake, and, if it did, to see what HE thought of the last new complication in the Indian conspiracy, as revealed in the prosaic precincts of my office.

Murthwaite,” I began, “you were acquainted with the late Lady Verinder, and you took some interest in the strange succession of events which ended in the loss of the Moonstone?” The eminent traveller did me the honour of waking up in an instant, and asking me who I was. I informed him of my professional connection with the Herncastle family, not forgetting the curious position which I had occupied towards the Colonel and his Diamond in the bygone time. Murthwaite shifted round in his chair, so as to put the rest of the company behind him (Conservatives and Liberals alike), and concentrated his whole attention on plain Mr. “I have every reason to believe,” I answered, “that one of them had an interview with me, in my office, yesterday.” Mr. Murthwaite was not an easy man to astonish; but that last answer of mine completely staggered him. I described what had happened to Mr. Luker, and what had happened to myself, exactly as I have described it here. “Why should he be so anxious to know the time at which a borrower of money is usually privileged to pay the money back?” “Is it possible that you don’t see his motive, Mr.

Murthwaite--but I certainly don’t see it.” The great traveller became quite interested in sounding the immense vacuity of my dulness to its lowest depths. “In what position does the conspiracy to seize the Moonstone now stand?” “I can’t say,” I answered. “The Indian plot is a mystery to me.” “The Indian plot, Mr. Bruff, can only be a mystery to you, because you have never seriously examined it. Shall we run it over together, from the time when you drew Colonel Herncastle’s Will, to the time when the Indian called at your office? In your position, it may be of very serious importance to the interests of Miss Verinder, that you should be able to take a clear view of this matter in case of need. or whether you wish me to save you the trouble of making any inquiry into it?” It is needless to say that I thoroughly appreciated the practical purpose which I now saw that he had in view, and that the first of the two alternatives was the alternative I chose. My idea too. Now look back to the time when Colonel Herncastle came to England, and when you were concerned in the plan he adopted to preserve his life.

I don’t want you to count the years. Bruff, when they left their native country!) who followed the Colonel to these shores. These present men of ours have succeeded to the men who were here before them. If they had only done that, the matter would not have been worth inquiring into. They have succeeded to the organisation which their predecessors established in this country. The organisation is a very trumpery affair, according to our ideas, I have no doubt. I should reckon it up as including the command of money; the services, when needed, of that shady sort of Englishman, who lives in the byways of foreign life in London; and, lastly, the secret sympathy of such few men of their own country, and (formerly, at least) of their own religion, as happen to be employed in ministering to some of the multitudinous wants of this great city.

But worth notice at starting, because we may find occasion to refer to this modest little Indian organisation as we go on. Having now cleared the ground, I am going to ask you a question; and I expect your experience to answer it. What was the event which gave the Indians their first chance of seizing the Diamond?” I understood the allusion to my experience. “The first chance they got,” I replied, “was clearly offered to them by Colonel Herncastle’s death. Up to that time the Moonstone was safe in the strong-room of the bank.

You drew the Colonel’s Will leaving his jewel to his niece; and the Will was proved in the usual way. As a lawyer, you can be at no loss to know what course the Indians would take (under English advice) after THAT.” “They would provide themselves with a copy of the Will from Doctors’ Commons,” I said. One or other of those shady Englishmen to whom I have alluded, would get them the copy you have described. That copy would inform them that the Moonstone was bequeathed to the daughter of Lady Verinder, and that Mr. Blake the elder, or some person appointed by him, was to place it in her hands. Blake, would be perfectly easy information to obtain. The one difficulty for the Indians would be to decide whether they should make their attempt on the Diamond when it was in course of removal from the keeping of the bank, or whether they should wait until it was taken down to Yorkshire to Lady Verinder’s house.

In London, it is needless to say, they had their organisation at their disposal to keep them informed of events.

One to follow anybody who went from Mr. Blake’s house to the bank. And one to treat the lower men servants with beer, and to hear the news of the house. Franklin Blake had been to the bank, and that Mr. Franklin Blake was the only person in the house who was going to visit Lady Verinder. What actually followed upon that discovery, you remember, no doubt, quite as correctly as I do.” I remembered that Franklin Blake had detected one of the spies, in the street--that he had, in consequence, advanced the time of his arrival in Yorkshire by some hours--and that (thanks to old Betteredge’s excellent advice) he had lodged the Diamond in the bank at Frizinghall, before the Indians were so much as prepared to see him in the neighbourhood. But the Indians being ignorant of the precautions thus taken, how was it that they had made no attempt on Lady Verinder’s house (in which they must have supposed the Diamond to be) through the whole of the interval that elapsed before Rachel’s birthday? In putting this difficulty to Mr. Murthwaite, I thought it right to add that I had heard of the little boy, and the drop of ink, and the rest of it, and that any explanation based on the theory of clairvoyance was an explanation which would carry no conviction whatever with it, to MY mind.

“Nor to mine either,” said Mr. It would be refreshment and an encouragement to those men--quite inconceivable, I grant you, to the English mind--to surround their wearisome and perilous errand in this country with a certain halo of the marvellous and the supernatural.

Their boy is unquestionably a sensitive subject to the mesmeric influence--and, under that influence, he has no doubt reflected what was already in the mind of the person mesmerising him. The Indians don’t investigate the matter in this way; the Indians look upon their boy as a Seer of things invisible to their eyes--and, I repeat, in that marvel they find the source of a new interest in the purpose that unites them. I only notice this as offering a curious view of human character, which must be quite new to you. We have nothing whatever to do with clairvoyance, or with mesmerism, or with anything else that is hard of belief to a practical man, in the inquiry that we are now pursuing. My object in following the Indian plot, step by step, is to trace results back, by rational means, to natural causes. Have I succeeded to your satisfaction so far?” “Not a doubt of it, Mr. I am waiting, however, with some anxiety, to hear the rational explanation of the difficulty which I have just had the honour of submitting to you.” Mr. “It’s the easiest difficulty to deal with of all,” he said. “Permit me to begin by admitting your statement of the case as a perfectly correct one.

The mistake of allowing themselves to be surprised, lurking about the terrace at night, by Gabriel Betteredge. That’s what I want to know! The clause you drew in Colonel Herncastle’s Will, informed them (didn’t it?) that the Moonstone was to pass absolutely into Miss Verinder’s possession on her birthday. To make their attempt on the Diamond while it was under the control of Mr. Or to wait till the Diamond was at the disposal of a young girl, who would innocently delight in wearing the magnificent jewel at every possible opportunity? They appeared at the house, after waiting all those weeks, on Miss Verinder’s birthday; and they were rewarded for the patient accuracy of their calculations by seeing the Moonstone in the bosom of her dress! When I heard the story of the Colonel and the Diamond, later in the evening, I felt so sure about the risk Mr. Franklin Blake had run (they would have certainly attacked him, if he had not happened to ride back to Lady Verinder’s in the company of other people); and I was so strongly convinced of the worse risk still, in store for Miss Verinder, that I recommended following the Colonel’s plan, and destroying the identity of the gem by having it cut into separate stones.

Before we go on to the second, may I ask whether I have met your difficulty, with an explanation which is satisfactory to the mind of a practical man?” It was impossible to deny that he had met my difficulty fairly; thanks to his superior knowledge of the Indian character--and thanks to his not having had hundreds of other Wills to think of since Colonel Herncastle’s time! “The first chance the Indians had of seizing the Diamond was a chance lost, on the day when they were committed to the prison at Frizinghall. The second chance offered itself--as I am in a condition to prove--while they were still in confinement.” He took out his pocket-book, and opened it at a particular leaf, before he went on. A day or two before the Indians were set free (on a Monday, I think), the governor of the prison came to me with a letter.

The prison authorities had noticed that the postmark was ‘Lambeth,’ and that the address on the outside, though expressed in correct English, was, in form, oddly at variance with the customary method of directing a letter. On opening it, they had found the contents to be written in a foreign language, which they rightly guessed at as Hindustani. Their object in coming to me was, of course, to have the letter translated to them.

I took a copy in my pocket-book of the original, and of my translation--and there they are at your service.” He handed me the open pocket-book. It was all written in one paragraph, without any attempt at punctuation, thus: “To the three Indian men living with the lady called Macann at Frizinghall in Yorkshire.” The Hindoo characters followed; and the English translation appeared at the end, expressed in these mysterious words: “In the name of the Regent of the Night, whose seat is on the Antelope, whose arms embrace the four corners of the earth. “Brothers, turn your faces to the south, and come to me in the street of many noises, which leads down to the muddy river. I handed it back to Mr. “I can explain the first sentence to you,” he said; “and the conduct of the Indians themselves will explain the rest. Here, then, to begin with, is something which looks suspiciously like an indirect reference to the Moonstone. Now, let us see what the Indians did, after the prison authorities had allowed them to receive their letter.

On the very day when they were set free they went at once to the railway station, and took their places in the first train that started for London. But, after Lady Verinder had dismissed the police-officer, and had stopped all further inquiry into the loss of the Diamond, no one else could presume to stir in the matter. The Indians were free to go to London, and to London they went. Luker’s application to the magistrate?” “Yes.” “In the course of his statement he referred, if you remember, to a foreign workman in his employment, whom he had just dismissed on suspicion of attempted theft, and whom he also distrusted as possibly acting in collusion with the Indians who had annoyed him. Bruff, as to who wrote that letter which puzzled you just now, and as to which of Mr. Luker’s Oriental treasures the workman had attempted to steal.” The inference (as I hastened to acknowledge) was too plain to need being pointed out. I had never doubted that the Moonstone had found its way into Mr.

Murthwaite alluded to. This question (the most difficult to deal with of all, as I had thought) had now received its answer, like the rest. Lawyer as I was, I began to feel that I might trust Mr.

Murthwaite to lead me blindfold through the last windings of the labyrinth, along which he had guided me thus far. “Somebody must have taken the Moonstone from Yorkshire to London. Has there been any discovery made of who that person was?” “None that I know of.” “There was a story (was there not?) about Mr. I am told he is an eminent philanthropist--which is decidedly against him, to begin with.” I heartily agreed in this with Mr. At the same time, I felt bound to inform him (without, it is needless to say, mentioning Miss Verinder’s name) that Mr. Murthwaite, quietly, “let us leave it to time to clear the matter up.

Bruff, we must get back again to the Indians, on your account. Their journey to London simply ended in their becoming the victims of another defeat. The loss of their second chance of seizing the Diamond is mainly attributable, as I think, to the cunning and foresight of Mr. Luker--who doesn’t stand at the top of the prosperous and ancient profession of usury for nothing! By the prompt dismissal of the man in his employment, he deprived the Indians of the assistance which their confederate would have rendered them in getting into the house. By the prompt transport of the Moonstone to his banker’s, he took the conspirators by surprise before they were prepared with a new plan for robbing him. How the Indians, in this latter case, suspected what he had done, and how they contrived to possess themselves of his banker’s receipt, are events too recent to need dwelling on. Let it be enough to say that they know the Moonstone to be once more out of their reach; deposited (under the general description of ‘a valuable of great price’) in a banker’s strong room.

and when will it come?” As the question passed his lips, I penetrated the motive of the Indian’s visit to my office at last! “The Indians take it for granted, as we do, that the Moonstone has been pledged; and they want to be certainly informed of the earliest period at which the pledge can be redeemed--because that will be the earliest period at which the Diamond can be removed from the safe keeping of the bank!” “I told you you would find it out for yourself, Mr. In a year from the time when the Moonstone was pledged, the Indians will be on the watch for their third chance.

Luker’s own lips have told them how long they will have to wait, and your respectable authority has satisfied them that Mr.

When do we suppose, at a rough guess, that the Diamond found its way into the money-lender’s hands?” “Towards the end of last June,” I answered, “as well as I can reckon it.” “And we are now in the year ‘forty-eight. If the unknown person who has pledged the Moonstone can redeem it in a year, the jewel will be in that person’s possession again at the end of June, ‘forty-nine.

But it may be worth YOUR while to take a note of it, and to arrange to be in London at the time.” “You think something serious will happen?” I said. “I think I shall be safer,” he answered, “among the fiercest fanatics of Central Asia than I should be if I crossed the door of the bank with the Moonstone in my pocket. EXPECT NEWS OF THE INDIANS, TOWARDS THE END OF THE MONTH. And that done, I hand the pen, which I have now no further claim to use, to the writer who follows me next. THIRD NARRATIVE Contributed by FRANKLIN BLAKE CHAPTER I In the spring of the year eighteen hundred and forty-nine I was wandering in the East, and had then recently altered the travelling plans which I had laid out some months before, and which I had communicated to my lawyer and my banker in London. This change made it necessary for me to send one of my servants to obtain my letters and remittances from the English consul in a certain city, which was no longer included as one of my resting-places in my new travelling scheme.

The man was to join me again at an appointed place and time. “I am afraid I bring you bad news, sir,” he said, and pointed to one of the letters, which had a mourning border round it, and the address on which was in the handwriting of Mr. It informed me that my father was dead, and that I was heir to his great fortune. The wealth which had thus fallen into my hands brought its responsibilities with it, and Mr.

Bruff entreated me to lose no time in returning to England. By daybreak the next morning, I was on my way back to my own country. He has, in his own quaint way, interpreted seriously one of his young mistress’s many satirical references to my foreign education; and has persuaded himself that he actually saw those French, German, and Italian sides to my character, which my lively cousin only professed to discover in jest, and which never had any real existence, except in our good Betteredge’s own brain. But, barring this drawback, I am bound to own that he has stated no more than the truth in representing me as wounded to the heart by Rachel’s treatment, and as leaving England in the first keenness of suffering caused by the bitterest disappointment of my life. I went abroad, resolved--if change and absence could help me--to forget her. On the other hand, it is no less certain that, with the act of turning homeward, the remedy which had gained its ground so steadily, began now, just as steadily, to drop back.

The nearer I drew to the country which she inhabited, and to the prospect of seeing her again, the more irresistibly her influence began to recover its hold on me. On leaving England she was the last person in the world whose name I would have suffered to pass my lips. On returning to England, she was the first person I inquired after, when Mr. Bruff did not, at that time, feel himself at liberty to inform me of the motives which had privately influenced Rachel and Godfrey Ablewhite in recalling the marriage promise, on either side. It was relief enough to me, after the jealous disappointment caused by hearing that she had ever contemplated being Godfrey’s wife, to know that reflection had convinced her of acting rashly, and that she had effected her own release from her marriage engagement. Having heard the story of the past, my next inquiries (still inquiries after Rachel!) advanced naturally to the present time. Merridew--whom her mother’s executors had requested to act as guardian, and who had accepted the proposal. They were reported to me as getting on together admirably well, and as being now established, for the season, in Mrs. Half an hour after receiving this information, I was on my way to Portland Place--without having had the courage to own it to Mr.

I might have suspected other people of purposely denying themselves to me. But it was impossible to suspect Rachel. The inference was too plain to be resisted. Rachel declined to see me. On my side, I declined to be treated in this way, without making an attempt, at least, to discover a reason for it. I sent up my name to Mrs. Merridew, and requested her to favour me with a personal interview at any hour which it might be most convenient to her to name. I was shown into a comfortable little sitting-room, and found myself in the presence of a comfortable little elderly lady. She was so good as to feel great regret and much surprise, entirely on my account. She was at the same time, however, not in a position to offer me any explanation, or to press Rachel on a matter which appeared to relate to a question of private feeling alone.

This was said over and over again, with a polite patience that nothing could tire; and this was all I gained by applying to Mrs. My last chance was to write to Rachel. My servant took a letter to her the next day, with strict instructions to wait for an answer. “Miss Verinder begs to decline entering into any correspondence with Mr. Franklin Blake.” Fond as I was of her, I felt indignantly the insult offered to me in that reply. Bruff came in to speak to me on business, before I had recovered possession of myself. He proved to be as incapable of enlightening me as Mrs. Had she referred to me in any way while she was staying under Mr. I took out of my pocket-book the letter which poor Lady Verinder had written to me from Frizinghall, on the day when I left her house in Yorkshire. Bruff’s attention to these two sentences in it: “The valuable assistance which you rendered to the inquiry after the lost jewel is still an unpardoned offence, in the present dreadful state of Rachel’s mind.

Moving blindfold in this matter, you have added to the burden of anxiety which she has had to bear, by innocently threatening her secret with discovery through your exertions.” “Is it possible,” I asked, “that the feeling towards me which is there described, is as bitter as ever against me now?” Mr. “If you insist on an answer,” he said, “I own I can place no other interpretation on her conduct than that.” I rang the bell, and directed my servant to pack my portmanteau, and to send out for a railway guide. Bruff asked, in astonishment, what I was going to do. “I am going to Yorkshire,” I answered, “by the next train.” “May I ask for what purpose?” “Mr.

Bruff, the assistance I innocently rendered to the inquiry after the Diamond was an unpardoned offence, in Rachel’s mind, nearly a year since; and it remains an unpardoned offence still. I am determined to find out the secret of her silence towards her mother, and her enmity towards me. If time, pains, and money can do it, I will lay my hand on the thief who took the Moonstone!” The worthy old gentleman attempted to remonstrate--to induce me to listen to reason--to do his duty towards me, in short. I was deaf to everything that he could urge.

“I shall take up the inquiry again,” I went on, “at the point where I dropped it; and I shall follow it onwards, step by step, till I come to the present time. There are missing links in the evidence, as I left it, which Gabriel Betteredge can supply, and to Gabriel Betteredge I go!” Towards sunset that evening I stood again on the well-remembered terrace, and looked once more at the peaceful old country house. He had left Betteredge, an hour since, sunning himself in the customary corner of the back yard. There he was--the dear old friend of the happy days that were never to come again--there he was in the old corner, on the old beehive chair, with his pipe in his mouth, and his ROBINSON CRUSOE on his lap, and his two friends, the dogs, dozing on either side of him! In the position in which I stood, my shadow was projected in front of me by the last slanting rays of the sun. I was obliged to wait a moment before I could trust myself to speak to him.

CHAPTER II “Betteredge!” I said, pointing to the well-remembered book on his knee, “has ROBINSON CRUSOE informed you, this evening, that you might expect to see Franklin Blake?” “By the lord Harry, Mr. Franklin!” cried the old man, “that’s exactly what ROBINSON CRUSOE has done!” He struggled to his feet with my assistance, and stood for a moment, looking backwards and forwards between ROBINSON CRUSOE and me, apparently at a loss to discover which of us had surprised him most.

Holding it open before him in both hands, he surveyed the wonderful volume with a stare of unutterable anticipation--as if he expected to see Robinson Crusoe himself walk out of the pages, and favour us with a personal interview. Page one hundred and fifty-six as follows:--‘I stood like one Thunderstruck, or as if I had seen an Apparition.’ If that isn’t as much as to say: ‘Expect the sudden appearance of Mr. Franklin Blake’--there’s no meaning in the English language!” said Betteredge, closing the book with a bang, and getting one of his hands free at last to take the hand which I offered him. I had expected him, naturally enough under the circumstances, to overwhelm me with questions. But no--the hospitable impulse was the uppermost impulse in the old servant’s mind, when a member of the family appeared (no matter how!) as a visitor at the house. I’ll cook your dinner; and the gardener’s wife will make your bed--and if there’s a bottle of our famous Latour claret left in the cellar, down your throat, Mr. It vexed me to disappoint him.

The commonest sense of self-respect forbade me--properly forbade me--to cross the threshold. I took Betteredge by the arm, and led him out into the garden. I was obliged to tell him the truth. Between his attachment to Rachel, and his attachment to me, he was sorely puzzled and distressed at the turn things had taken.

She has been trying to ride over you--and you have put up with it. Now listen to me. Betteredge took her exercise on that favourite female animal whenever I happened to deny her anything that she had set her heart on. So sure as I came home from my work on these occasions, so sure was my wife to call to me up the kitchen stairs, and to say that, after my brutal treatment of her, she hadn’t the heart to cook me my dinner. I went downstairs, and I took Mrs. Betteredge--affectionately, you understand--up in my arms, and carried her, holus-bolus, into the best parlour where she received her company. I said ‘That’s the right place for you, my dear,’ and so went back to the kitchen. I locked myself in, and took off my coat, and turned up my shirt-sleeves, and cooked my own dinner. Franklin, I never had to cook my dinner again! Come back to the house!” Quite unanswerable!

“I shall walk to Frizinghall, and stay at the hotel, and you must come to-morrow morning and breakfast with me. I have something to say to you.” Betteredge shook his head gravely. Franklin, to hear that things were all smooth and pleasant again between you and Miss Rachel. If you must have your own way, sir,” he continued, after a moment’s reflection, “there is no need to go to Frizinghall to-night for a bed.

It’s to be had nearer than that. There’s Hotherstone’s Farm, barely two miles from here. You can hardly object to THAT on Miss Rachel’s account,” the old man added slily. “Hotherstone lives, Mr. The farm-house stood in a sheltered inland valley, on the banks of the prettiest stream in that part of Yorkshire: and the farmer had a spare bedroom and parlour, which he was accustomed to let to artists, anglers, and tourists in general. A more agreeable place of abode, during my stay in the neighbourhood, I could not have wished to find. “Are the rooms to let?” I inquired. Hotherstone herself, sir, asked for my good word to recommend the rooms, yesterday.” “I’ll take them, Betteredge, with the greatest pleasure.” We went back to the yard, in which I had left my travelling-bag.

After putting a stick through the handle, and swinging the bag over his shoulder, Betteredge appeared to relapse into the bewilderment which my sudden appearance had caused, when I surprised him in the beehive chair. “I’ve lived a goodish long time in the world,” said this best and dearest of all old servants--“but the like of this, I never did expect to see. Franklin Blake--and, Damme, if one of them isn’t turning his back on the other, and going to sleep in a lodging!” He led the way out, wagging his head and growling ominously. “There’s only one more miracle that CAN happen,” he said to me, over his shoulder. Franklin, will be to pay me back that seven-and-sixpence you borrowed of me when you were a boy.” This stroke of sarcasm put him in a better humour with himself and with me. He dropped back, so as to let me get on a level with him. “Supposing you had gone to the hotel at Frizinghall, sir?” “Yes?” “I should have had the honour of breakfasting with you, to-morrow morning.” “Come and breakfast with me at Hotherstone’s Farm, instead.” “Much obliged to you for your kindness, Mr.

I think you mentioned that you had something to say to me? If it’s no secret, sir,” said Betteredge, suddenly abandoning the crooked way, and taking the straight one, “I’m burning to know what’s brought you down here, if you please, in this sudden way.” “What brought me here before?” I asked. “The Moonstone, Mr. But what brings you now, sir?” “The Moonstone again, Betteredge.” The old man suddenly stood still, and looked at me in the grey twilight as if he suspected his own ears of deceiving him. “I have come here to take up the inquiry which was dropped when I left England.

I have come here to do what nobody has done yet--to find out who took the Diamond.” “Let the Diamond be, Mr. Don’t waste your money and your temper--in the fine spring time of your life, sir--by meddling with the Moonstone. How can YOU hope to succeed (saving your presence), when Sergeant Cuff himself made a mess of it? By-the-bye, I may want to speak to him, sooner or later. He has got a little cottage at Dorking; and he’s up to his eyes in the growing of roses. Begbie the gardener is to go to Dorking, and own that the Sergeant has beaten him at last.” “It doesn’t much matter,” I said.

And I must trust to you, at starting.” It is likely enough that I spoke rather carelessly. At any rate, Betteredge seemed to be piqued by something in the reply which I had just made to him. “You might trust to worse than me, Mr. The tone in which he retorted, and a certain disturbance, after he had spoken, which I detected in his manner, suggested to me that he was possessed of some information which he hesitated to communicate. “I expect you to help me,” I said, “in picking up the fragments of evidence which Sergeant Cuff has left behind him. “Some people are born boasters, and they never get over it to their dying day. I’m one of them.” There was only one way to take with him. I appealed to his interest in Rachel, and his interest in me. “Betteredge, would you be glad to hear that Rachel and I were good friends again?” “I have served your family, sir, to mighty little purpose, if you doubt it!” “Do you remember how Rachel treated me, before I left England?” “As well as if it was yesterday!

My lady herself wrote you a letter about it; and you were so good as to show the letter to me. It said that Miss Rachel was mortally offended with you, for the part you had taken in trying to recover her jewel. I knew that the Diamond was at the bottom of it, last year, and I know that the Diamond is at the bottom of it now. I have tried to speak to her, and she won’t see me.

I have tried to write to her, and she won’t answer me. How, in Heaven’s name, am I to clear the matter up? The chance of searching into the loss of the Moonstone, is the one chance of inquiry that Rachel herself has left me.” Those words evidently put the case before him, as he had not seen it yet.

I want to make Rachel come to an understanding with me--and I want nothing more.” “You don’t feel any fear, sir--supposing you make any discoveries--in regard to what you may find out about Miss Rachel?” I understood the jealous belief in his young mistress which prompted those words. “If I am doing wrong to help you, Mr. I can put you on the road to discovery, if you can only go on by yourself.

You remember that poor girl of ours--Rosanna Spearman?” “Of course!” “You always thought she had some sort of confession in regard to this matter of the Moonstone, which she wanted to make to you?” “I certainly couldn’t account for her strange conduct in any other way.” “You may set that doubt at rest, Mr. Franklin, whenever you please.” It was my turn to come to a standstill now. I tried vainly, in the gathering darkness, to see his face. Rosanna Spearman left a sealed letter behind her--a letter addressed to YOU.” “Where is it?” “In the possession of a friend of hers, at Cobb’s Hole. Franklin.” “Why wasn’t the letter forwarded to me?” “Limping Lucy has a will of her own, sir. She wouldn’t give it into any hands but yours.

And you had left England before I could write to you.” “Let’s go back, Betteredge, and get it at once!” “Too late, sir, to-night. They’re great savers of candles along our coast; and they go to bed early at Cobb’s Hole.” “Nonsense! He pointed to a light, glimmering below us; and, at the same moment, I heard through the stillness of the evening the bubbling of a stream. Make yourself comfortable for to-night, and come to me to-morrow morning if you’ll be so kind?’” “You will go with me to the fisherman’s cottage?” “Yes, sir.” “Early?” “As early, Mr. Franklin, as you like.” We descended the path that led to the Farm. CHAPTER III I have only the most indistinct recollection of what happened at Hotherstone’s Farm. I remember a hearty welcome; a prodigious supper, which would have fed a whole village in the East; a delightfully clean bedroom, with nothing in it to regret but that detestable product of the folly of our fore-fathers--a feather-bed; a restless night, with much kindling of matches, and many lightings of one little candle; and an immense sensation of relief when the sun rose, and there was a prospect of getting up. It had been arranged over-night with Betteredge, that I was to call for him, on our way to Cobb’s Hole, as early as I liked--which, interpreted by my impatience to get possession of the letter, meant as early as I could. Without waiting for breakfast at the Farm, I took a crust of bread in my hand, and set forth, in some doubt whether I should not surprise the excellent Betteredge in his bed.

To my great relief he proved to be quite as excited about the coming event as I was. “How are you this morning, Betteredge?” “Very poorly, sir.” “Sorry to hear it. I don’t want to alarm you, but you’re certain to catch it before the morning is out.” “The devil I am!” “Do you feel an uncomfortable heat at the pit of your stomach, sir? and a nasty thumping at the top of your head? and the cure in this instance is to open Rosanna Spearman’s letter, I suppose? She put a bottle of Dutch gin and a couple of clean pipes on the table, and opened the conversation by saying, “What news from London, sir?” Before I could find an answer to this immensely comprehensive question, an apparition advanced towards me, out of a dark corner of the kitchen. A wan, wild, haggard girl, with remarkably beautiful hair, and with a fierce keenness in her eyes, came limping up on a crutch to the table at which I was sitting, and looked at me as if I was an object of mingled interest and horror, which it quite fascinated her to see. Yolland--as I believe--made some apologies for her daughter’s odd behaviour, and Betteredge (probably) translated them into polite English. Thump-thump, up the wooden stairs; thump-thump across the room above our heads; thump-thump down the stairs again--and there stood the apparition at the open door, with a letter in its hand, beckoning me out!

She led me behind some boats, out of sight and hearing of the few people in the fishing-village, and then stopped, and faced me for the first time. “Stand there,” she said, “I want to look at you.” There was no mistaking the expression on her face. Let me not be vain enough to say that no woman had ever looked at me in this manner before. There is a limit to the length of the inspection which a man can endure, under certain circumstances. I attempted to direct Limping Lucy’s attention to some less revolting object than my face. “I think you have got a letter to give me,” I began. “No,” said the girl, speaking to herself, but keeping her eyes still mercilessly fixed on me. I can’t guess what she heard in his voice.” She suddenly looked away from me, and rested her head wearily on the top of her crutch. “Oh, my poor dear!” she said, in the first soft tones which had fallen from her, in my hearing.

I did my best to preserve my gravity, and answered, “Yes.” “Can you sleep?” “Yes.” “When you see a poor girl in service, do you feel no remorse?” “Certainly not. Why should I?” She abruptly thrust the letter (as the phrase is) into my face. God Almighty forbid I should ever set eyes on you again.” With those parting words she limped away from me at the top of her speed. Having reached that inevitable conclusion, I turned to the more interesting object of investigation which was presented to me by Rosanna Spearman’s letter. To be given into his own hands (and not to be trusted to any one else), by Lucy Yolland.” I broke the seal.

I read the letter first:-- “Sir,--If you are curious to know the meaning of my behaviour to you, whilst you were staying in the house of my mistress, Lady Verinder, do what you are told to do in the memorandum enclosed with this--and do it without any person being present to overlook you. Your humble servant, “ROSANNA SPEARMAN.” I turned to the slip of paper next. Here is the literal copy of it, word for word: “Memorandum:--To go to the Shivering Sand at the turn of the tide. To walk out on the South Spit, until I get the South Spit Beacon, and the flagstaff at the Coast-guard station above Cobb’s Hole in a line together. To lay down on the rocks, a stick, or any straight thing to guide my hand, exactly in the line of the beacon and the flagstaff. To take care, in doing this, that one end of the stick shall be at the edge of the rocks, on the side of them which overlooks the quicksand.

To feel along the stick, among the sea-weed (beginning from the end of the stick which points towards the beacon), for the Chain. To run my hand along the Chain, when found, until I come to the part of it which stretches over the edge of the rocks, down into the quicksand.

AND THEN TO PULL THE CHAIN.” Just as I had read the last words--underlined in the original--I heard the voice of Betteredge behind me. The inventor of the detective-fever had completely succumbed to that irresistible malady. He read the first without appearing to be much interested in it. “From first to last, sir, the Sergeant said she had got a memorandum of the hiding-place. Franklin, here is the secret that puzzled everybody, from the great Cuff downwards, ready and waiting, as one may say, to show itself to YOU!

“Tammie Bright!” he shouted at the top of his voice. Franklin,” said Betteredge; “and get to the quicksand in that way with plenty of time to spare. What do you say, sir?” “Come along!” On our way to the Shivering Sand, I applied to Betteredge to revive my memory of events (as affecting Rosanna Spearman) at the period of Sergeant Cuff’s inquiry. Rosanna’s journey to Frizinghall, when the whole household believed her to be ill in her own room--Rosanna’s mysterious employment of the night-time with her door locked, and her candle burning till the morning--Rosanna’s suspicious purchase of the japanned tin case, and the two dog’s chains from Mrs. Yolland--the Sergeant’s positive conviction that Rosanna had hidden something at the Shivering Sand, and the Sergeant’s absolute ignorance as to what that something might be--all these strange results of the abortive inquiry into the loss of the Moonstone were clearly present to me again, when we reached the quicksand, and walked out together on the low ledge of rocks called the South Spit. With Betteredge’s help, I soon stood in the right position to see the Beacon and the Coast-guard flagstaff in a line together. Having reached the dry sand, I prepared to sit down; and, greatly to my surprise, Betteredge prepared to leave me. “Look at the letter again, sir, and you will see.” A glance at the letter reminded me that I was charged, when I made my discovery, to make it alone.

“It’s hard enough for me to leave you, at such a time as this,” said Betteredge. Franklin, to humour that fancy of hers. The detective-fever isn’t an easy disease to deal with, under THESE circumstances.” With that parting caution, he left me. This was one of the occasions on which the invaluable habit of smoking becomes especially precious and consolatory. It was the finest day I had seen since my return to England. I threw away my cigar, and went back again to the rocks. My directions in the memorandum instructed me to feel along the line traced by the stick, beginning with the end which was nearest to the beacon.

Attempting, next, to follow it, by touch, in the direction of the quicksand, I found my progress stopped by a thick growth of seaweed--which had fastened itself into the fissure, no doubt, in the time that had elapsed since Rosanna Spearman had chosen her hiding-place. It was equally impossible to pull up the seaweed, or to force my hand through it. After marking the spot indicated by the end of the stick which was placed nearest to the quicksand, I determined to pursue the search for the chain on a plan of my own. My idea was to “sound” immediately under the rocks, on the chance of recovering the lost trace of the chain at the point at which it entered the sand. I took up the stick, and knelt down on the brink of the South Spit. A horrible fancy that the dead woman might appear on the scene of her suicide, to assist my search--an unutterable dread of seeing her rise through the heaving surface of the sand, and point to the place--forced itself into my mind, and turned me cold in the warm sunlight. The instant afterwards, before the stick could have been submerged more than a few inches, I was free from the hold of my own superstitious terror, and was throbbing with excitement from head to foot. And there was the japanned tin case fastened to the end of it. The action of the water had so rusted the chain, that it was impossible for me to unfasten it from the hasp which attached it to the case.

Putting the case between my knees and exerting my utmost strength, I contrived to draw off the cover. I put in my hand, and found it to be linen. It came out in a thick roll, moulded, of course, to the shape of the case in which it had been so long confined, and perfectly preserved from any injury by the sea. I carried the linen to the dry sand of the beach, and there unrolled and smoothed it out.

The uppermost side, when I spread it out, presented to view innumerable folds and creases, and nothing more. My eyes remained riveted on the stain, and my mind took me back at a leap from present to past. The very words of Sergeant Cuff recurred to me, as if the man himself was at my side again, pointing to the unanswerable inference which he drew from the smear on the door. Find out who that dress belongs to. If the person can’t satisfy you, you haven’t far to look for the hand that took the Diamond.” One after another those words travelled over my memory, repeating themselves again and again with a wearisome, mechanical reiteration. I was roused from what felt like a trance of many hours--from what was really, no doubt, the pause of a few moments only--by a voice calling to me.

He was just visible between the sandhills, returning to the beach. The old man’s appearance recalled me, the moment I perceived it, to my sense of present things, and reminded me that the inquiry which I had pursued thus far still remained incomplete. To whom did the nightgown belong? My first impulse was to consult the letter in my pocket--the letter which I had found in the case. As I raised my hand to take it out, I remembered that there was a shorter way to discovery than this. I took it up from the sand, and looked for the mark. There were the familiar letters which told me that the nightgown was mine. There was the sun; there were the glittering waters of the bay; there was old Betteredge, advancing nearer and nearer to me. “If time, pains, and money can do it, I will lay my hand on the thief who took the Moonstone.”--I had left London, with those words on my lips.

CHAPTER IV I have not a word to say about my own sensations. I certainly could not have known what I was about when Betteredge joined me--for I have it on his authority that I laughed, when he asked what was the matter, and putting the nightgown into his hands, told him to read the riddle for himself. Betteredge and I are walking back together to the house; and Betteredge is telling me that I shall be able to face it, and he will be able to face it, when we have had a glass of grog.

The scene shifts from the plantation, to Betteredge’s little sitting-room. My resolution not to enter Rachel’s house is forgotten. I drink the grog (a perfectly new luxury to me, at that time of day), which my good old friend mixes with icy-cold water from the well. I begin to “face it,” as Betteredge has predicted. And Betteredge, on his side, begins to “face it,” too. The picture which I am now presenting of myself, will, I suspect, be thought a very strange one, to say the least of it. Placed in a situation which may, I think, be described as entirely without parallel, what is the first proceeding to which I resort? Do I set my mind to analyse the abominable impossibility which, nevertheless, confronts me as an undeniable fact? Do I hurry back to London by the first train to consult the highest authorities, and to set a searching inquiry on foot immediately?

I accept the shelter of a house which I had resolved never to degrade myself by entering again; and I sit, tippling spirits and water in the company of an old servant, at ten o’clock in the morning. I can only answer that the sight of old Betteredge’s familiar face was an inexpressible comfort to me, and that the drinking of old Betteredge’s grog helped me, as I believe nothing else would have helped me, in the state of complete bodily and mental prostration into which I had fallen.

I can only offer this excuse for myself; and I can only admire that invariable preservation of dignity, and that strictly logical consistency of conduct which distinguish every man and woman who may read these lines, in every emergency of their lives from the cradle to the grave. Franklin, there’s one thing certain, at any rate,” said Betteredge, throwing the nightgown down on the table between us, and pointing to it as if it was a living creature that could hear him. “HE’S a liar, to begin with.” This comforting view of the matter was not the view that presented itself to my mind. The paint on the nightgown, and the name on the nightgown are facts.” Betteredge lifted my glass, and put it persuasively into my hand. Was there nothing else in the tin case, when you put your hand into it?” The question instantly reminded me of the letter in my pocket. I took it out, and opened it. “Stop!” I exclaimed. “Rosanna Spearman came to my aunt out of a reformatory? How do we know she may not have stolen the Diamond after all?

How do we know she may not have smeared my nightgown purposely with the paint?” Betteredge laid his hand on my arm, and stopped me before I could say any more.

In justice to the girl’s memory, see what it says.” I felt the earnestness with which he spoke--felt it as a friendly rebuke to me. “I will read it out.” I began--and read these lines: “Sir--I have something to own to you. “In the name of Heaven,” I said, “what does it mean?” He seemed to shrink from answering the question. “You and Limping Lucy were alone together this morning, sir,” he said. “Did she say nothing about Rosanna Spearman?” “She never even mentioned Rosanna Spearman’s name.” “Please to go back to the letter, Mr. I tell you plainly, I can’t find it in my heart to distress you, after what you have had to bear already. “It would be very disgraceful to me to tell you this, if I was a living woman when you read it. Not even my grave will be left to tell of me. I may own the truth--with the quicksand waiting to hide me when the words are written.

“Besides, you will find your nightgown in my hiding-place, with the smear of the paint on it; and you will want to know how it came to be hidden by me? and why I said nothing to you about it in my life-time?

I have only one reason to give.

“I won’t trouble you with much about myself, or my life, before you came to my lady’s house. Lady Verinder took me out of a reformatory.

I had gone to the reformatory from the prison. There is no need to tell such a common story as this, at any length. It is told quite often enough in the newspapers. “Lady Verinder was very kind to me, and Mr. Betteredge was very kind to me. Those two, and the matron at the reformatory, are the only good people I have ever met with in all my life. You were like a prince in a fairy-story. Oh, if I could only make you feel how serious it is to ME! “I went back to the house, and wrote your name and mine in my work-box, and drew a true lovers’ knot under them. Then, some devil--no, I ought to say some good angel--whispered to me, ‘Go and look in the glass.’ The glass told me--never mind what.

I was too foolish to take the warning. I tried--oh, dear, how I tried--to get you to look at me. If you had known how I used to cry at night with the misery and the mortification of your never taking any notice of me, you would have pitied me perhaps, and have given me a look now and then to live on. She used to give you roses to wear in your button-hole. Suppose you put Miss Rachel into a servant’s dress, and took her ornaments off? It can’t be denied that she had a bad figure; she was too thin. I can’t expect you to read my letter, if I write it in this way.

But it does stir one up to hear Miss Rachel called pretty, when one knows all the time that it’s her dress does it, and her confidence in herself. “Try not to lose patience with me, sir. I will get on as fast as I can to the time which is sure to interest you--the time when the Diamond was lost. “But there is one thing which I have got it on my mind to tell you first. “My life was not a very hard life to bear, while I was a thief. It was only when they had taught me at the reformatory to feel my own degradation, and to try for better things, that the days grew long and weary. I felt the dreadful reproach that honest people--even the kindest of honest people--were to me in themselves.

It was my duty, I know, to try and get on with my fellow-servants in my new place. I don’t regret, far from it, having been roused to make the effort to be a reformed woman--but, indeed, indeed it was a weary life. You had come across it like a beam of sunshine at first--and then you too failed me. I was mad enough to love you; and I couldn’t even attract your notice. “Now I am coming to what I wanted to tell you.

In those days of bitterness, I went two or three times, when it was my turn to go out, to my favourite place--the beach above the Shivering Sand. And I said to myself, ‘I think it will end here. I had always had a notion that something would happen to me at the quicksand. “This is all I have to say about myself, reckoning from the morning when I first saw you, to the morning when the alarm was raised in the house that the Diamond was lost. “I was so aggravated by the foolish talk among the women servants, all wondering who was to be suspected first; and I was so angry with you (knowing no better at that time) for the pains you took in hunting for the jewel, and sending for the police, that I kept as much as possible away by myself, until later in the day, when the officer from Frizinghall came to the house.

Seegrave began, as you may remember, by setting a guard on the women’s bedrooms; and the women all followed him up-stairs in a rage, to know what he meant by the insult he had put on them. He told us he wouldn’t have a lot of women there; and he pointed to the smear on the painted door, and said some of our petticoats had done the mischief, and sent us all down-stairs again. “After leaving Miss Rachel’s room, I stopped a moment on one of the landings, by myself, to see if I had got the paint-stain by any chance on MY gown. Seegrave hadn’t set a watch on our bedrooms, I might have told him as much. I quieted her, and brought her back to what she had said about the paint on the door having been dry for hours. I heard Miss Rachel ask whether the door would be dry that evening, in time for the birthday company to see it. Mine says the door was dry by three this morning.’ “‘Did some of the ladies go up-stairs yesterday evening to see it?’ I asked. ‘I thought I heard Miss Rachel warning them to keep clear of the door.’ “‘None of the ladies made the smear,’ Penelope answered. And I noticed the door, and there was nothing wrong with it then.’ “‘Oughtn’t you to mention this to Mr. Seegrave, Penelope?’ “‘I wouldn’t say a word to help Mr.

Seegrave for anything that could be offered to me!’ “She went to her work, and I went to mine.” “My work, sir, was to make your bed, and to put your room tidy. I used to kiss the pillow on which your head had rested all night. “Well, I went in that morning to do my work in your room. There was your nightgown tossed across the bed, just as you had thrown it off. I took it up to fold it--and I saw the stain of the paint from Miss Rachel’s door! “I was so startled by the discovery that I ran out with the nightgown in my hand, and made for the back stairs, and locked myself into my own room, to look at it in a place where nobody could intrude and interrupt me. “As soon as I got my breath again, I called to mind my talk with Penelope, and I said to myself, ‘Here’s the proof that he was in Miss Rachel’s sitting-room between twelve last night, and three this morning!’ “I shall not tell you in plain words what was the first suspicion that crossed my mind, when I had made that discovery. “Let it be enough, if you please, to say only this.

After thinking it over to the best of my ability, I made it out that the thing wasn’t likely, for a reason that I will tell you. If you had been in Miss Rachel’s sitting-room, at that time of night, with Miss Rachel’s knowledge (and if you had been foolish enough to forget to take care of the wet door) SHE would have reminded you--SHE would never have let you carry away such a witness against her, as the witness I was looking at now! At the same time, I own I was not completely certain in my own mind that I had proved my own suspicion to be wrong. You will not have forgotten that I have owned to hating Miss Rachel. Try to think, if you can, that there was a little of that hatred in all this. It ended in my determining to keep the nightgown, and to wait, and watch, and see what use I might make of it. At that time, please to remember, not the ghost of an idea entered my head that you had stolen the Diamond.” There, I broke off in the reading of the letter for the second time.

I had read those portions of the miserable woman’s confession which related to myself, with unaffected surprise, and, I can honestly add, with sincere distress. “Read the rest for yourself,” I said, handing the letter to Betteredge across the table. And, God help us all!” he added, in a lower tone, “it’s no less natural in HER.” I proceed to copy the continuation of the letter from the original, in my own possession:-- “Having determined to keep the nightgown, and to see what use my love, or my revenge (I hardly know which) could turn it to in the future, the next thing to discover was how to keep it without the risk of being found out. “There was only one way--to make another nightgown exactly like it, before Saturday came, and brought the laundry-woman and her inventory to the house. “I was afraid to put it off till next day (the Friday); being in doubt lest some accident might happen in the interval.

I determined to make the new nightgown on that same day (the Thursday), while I could count, if I played my cards properly, on having my time to myself. The first thing to do (after locking up your nightgown in my drawer) was to go back to your bed-room--not so much to put it to rights (Penelope would have done that for me, if I had asked her) as to find out whether you had smeared off any of the paint-stain from your nightgown, on the bed, or on any piece of furniture in the room. I suppose you felt chilly after walking to and fro in nothing but your nightdress, and put on the warmest thing you could find. “I had just finished your room when I was sent for to be questioned by Mr. And then followed the most extraordinary event of the day--to ME--since I had found the paint on your nightgown. “Penelope returned to us quite beside herself with rage at the manner in which Mr. We were all equally astonished at hearing this, and we all asked, Why?

In the midst of it all, something in my mind whispered to me that the smear on your nightgown might have a meaning entirely different to the meaning which I had given to it up to that time. ‘If the last person who was in the room is the person to be suspected,’ I thought to myself, ‘the thief is not Penelope, but Mr. “But the bare thought that YOU had let yourself down to my level, and that I, in possessing myself of your nightgown, had also possessed myself of the means of shielding you from being discovered, and disgraced for life--I say, sir, the bare thought of this seemed to open such a chance before me of winning your good will, that I passed blindfold, as one may say, from suspecting to believing. I made up my mind, on the spot, that you had shown yourself the busiest of anybody in fetching the police, as a blind to deceive us all; and that the hand which had taken Miss Rachel’s jewel could by no possibility be any other hand than yours. I felt such a devouring eagerness to see you--to try you with a word or two about the Diamond, and to MAKE you look at me, and speak to me, in that way--that I put my hair tidy, and made myself as nice as I could, and went to you boldly in the library where I knew you were writing. if you have ever loved, you will understand how it was that all my courage cooled, when I walked into the room, and found myself in your presence.

I was so mortified at being treated in this way, that I plucked up spirit enough to speak. Believing, as I did, that you had got the lost Diamond hidden about you, while you were speaking, your coolness so provoked me that I got bold enough, in the heat of the moment, to give you a hint. nor the person who took it--I’ll answer for that.’ I nodded, and smiled at you, as much as to say, ‘I know!’ THIS time, you looked up at me with something like interest in your eyes; and I felt that a few more words on your side and mine might bring out the truth. Betteredge spoilt it all by coming to the door.

I knew his footstep, and I also knew that it was against his rules for me to be in the library at that time of day--let alone being there along with you.

I had only just time to get out of my own accord, before he could come in and tell me to go. “When I got back to the servants’ hall, the bell was going for our dinner.

and the materials for making the new nightgown were still to be got! I shammed ill at dinner; and so secured the whole of the interval from then till tea-time to my own use. “What I was about, while the household believed me to be lying down in my own room; and how I spent the night, after shamming ill again at tea-time, and having been sent up to bed, there is no need to tell you. There was a glass in front of me, at the counter where I was buying the longcloth; and--in that glass--I saw one of the shopmen point to my shoulder and whisper to another. At night again, when I was secretly at work, locked into my room, I heard the breathing of the women servants who suspected me, outside my door.

On the Friday morning, hours before Sergeant Cuff entered the house, there was the new nightgown--to make up your number in place of the nightgown that I had got--made, wrung out, dried, ironed, marked, and folded as the laundry woman folded all the others, safe in your drawer. All your underclothing had been renewed, when you came to our house--I suppose on your return home from foreign parts. “I had believed you to be guilty (as I have owned), more because I wanted you to be guilty than for any other reason. And now, the Sergeant had come round by a totally different way to the same conclusion (respecting the nightgown) as mine! I am afraid to tell you how I felt when I called these things to mind--you would hate my memory for ever afterwards.” At that place, Betteredge looked up from the letter. Franklin,” said the old man, taking off his heavy tortoiseshell spectacles, and pushing Rosanna Spearman’s confession a little away from him.

“Have you come to any conclusion, sir, in your own mind, while I have been reading?” “Finish the letter first, Betteredge; there may be something to enlighten us at the end of it. I shall have a word or two to say to you after that.” “Very good, sir. Franklin--I don’t want to hurry you--but would you mind telling me, in one word, whether you see your way out of this dreadful mess yet?” “I see my way back to London,” I said, “to consult Mr. Bruff and the Sergeant, I don’t know of a living creature who can be of the slightest use to me.” As the words passed my lips, some person outside knocked at the door of the room. “Come in,” he called out, irritably, “whoever you are!” The door opened, and there entered to us, quietly, the most remarkable-looking man that I had ever seen. His complexion was of a gipsy darkness; his fleshless cheeks had fallen into deep hollows, over which the bone projected like a pent-house. From this strange face, eyes, stranger still, of the softest brown--eyes dreamy and mournful, and deeply sunk in their orbits--looked out at you, and (in my case, at least) took your attention captive at their will. Add to this a quantity of thick closely-curling hair, which, by some freak of Nature, had lost its colour in the most startlingly partial and capricious manner. Over the top of his head it was still of the deep black which was its natural colour.

Round the sides of his head--without the slightest gradation of grey to break the force of the extraordinary contrast--it had turned completely white. At one place, the white hair ran up into the black; at another, the black hair ran down into the white.

I looked at the man with a curiosity which, I am ashamed to say, I found it quite impossible to control. Betteredge was engaged.” He took a slip of paper from his pocket, and handed it to Betteredge. Franklin, you will be sorry to hear that the little doctor has never recovered that illness he caught, going home from the birthday dinner. THEY must put up with the man with the piebald hair, and the gipsy complexion--or they would get no doctoring at all.” “You don’t seem to like him, Betteredge?” “Nobody likes him, sir.” “Why is he so unpopular?” “Well, Mr.

Franklin, his appearance is against him, to begin with. And then there’s a story that Mr.

Candy took him with a very doubtful character. How can you expect one to like him, after that?” “Quite impossible, of course! May I ask what he wanted with you, when he gave you that bit of paper?” “Only to bring me the weekly list of the sick people about here, sir, who stand in need of a little wine. My lady always had a regular distribution of good sound port and sherry among the infirm poor; and Miss Rachel wishes the custom to be kept up. Candy himself brought the list to my mistress. Candy’s assistant who brings the list to me. I’ll go on with the letter, if you will allow me, sir,” said Betteredge, drawing Rosanna Spearman’s confession back to him.

“There’s a bottom of good sense, Mr. Franklin, in our conduct to our mothers, when they first start us on the journey of life.

We are all of us more or less unwilling to be brought into the world. Candy’s assistant had produced too strong an impression on me to be immediately dismissed from my thoughts. I passed over the last unanswerable utterance of the Betteredge philosophy; and returned to the subject of the man with the piebald hair. “Ezra Jennings.” CHAPTER V Having told me the name of Mr. Candy’s assistant, Betteredge appeared to think that we had wasted enough of our time on an insignificant subject.

My thoughts flowed back into their former channel. Once more, I forced myself to look my own incredible position resolutely in the face. Once more, I reviewed in my own mind the course which I had at last summoned composure enough to plan out for the future. To go back to London that day; to put the whole case before Mr. Bruff; and, last and most important, to obtain (no matter by what means or at what sacrifice) a personal interview with Rachel--this was my plan of action, so far as I was capable of forming it at the time. There was more than an hour still to spare before the train started.

And there was the bare chance that Betteredge might discover something in the unread portion of Rosanna Spearman’s letter, which it might be useful for me to know before I left the house in which the Diamond had been lost. The letter ended in these terms: “You have no need to be angry, Mr. Anxieties and fears soon came back to me.

With the view Sergeant Cuff took of the loss of the Diamond, he would be sure to end in examining our linen and our dresses. How to hide the nightgown so that not even the Sergeant could find it? and how to do that without losing one moment of precious time?--these were not easy questions to answer.

“The next news that reached us in the servants’ hall showed that I had not made sure of the nightgown a moment too soon. Sergeant Cuff wanted to see the washing-book. “I found it, and took it to him in my lady’s sitting-room. In this suspense, I felt it would be a relief to me to get the meeting between us over, and to know the worst of it at once. There was no knowing what he might say of me behind my back; there was no knowing how soon I might not find myself taken in custody on suspicion, and searched. Godfrey Ablewhite off by the railway; and I went to your favourite walk in the shrubbery, to try for another chance of speaking to you--the last chance, for all I knew to the contrary, that I might have.

“I had no choice, after that, but to return to my proper place and my proper work, before more disasters happened to me. Just as I was going to step across the path, you came back from the railway.

You were making straight for the shrubbery, when you saw me--I am certain, sir, you saw me--and you turned away as if I had got the plague, and went into the house.* * NOTE: by Franklin Blake.--The writer is entirely mistaken, poor creature. My intention was certainly to have taken a turn in the shrubbery. But, remembering at the same moment that my aunt might wish to see me, after my return from the railway, I altered my mind, and went into the house. I have told you already of the thoughts which the Shivering Sand put into my head. Those thoughts came back to me now.

I wondered in myself which it would be harder to do, if things went on in this manner--to bear Mr. Franklin Blake’s indifference to me, or to jump into the quicksand and end it for ever in that way? “It’s useless to ask me to account for my own conduct, at this time. “Why didn’t I stop you, when you avoided me in that cruel manner? Franklin, I have got something to say to you; it concerns yourself, and you must, and shall, hear it?’ You were at my mercy--I had got the whip-hand of you, as they say. And better than that, I had the means (if I could only make you trust me) of being useful to you in the future.

Of course, I never supposed that you--a gentleman--had stolen the Diamond for the mere pleasure of stealing it. It was plain enough to me that you had taken the Diamond to sell it, or pledge it, and so to get the money of which you stood in need. I could have told you of a man in London who would have advanced a good large sum on the jewel, and who would have asked no awkward questions about it either. “Why didn’t I speak to you!

why didn’t I speak to you! “I wonder whether the risks and difficulties of keeping the nightgown were as much as I could manage, without having other risks and difficulties added to them? In the days when I was a thief, I had run fifty times greater risks, and found my way out of difficulties to which THIS difficulty was mere child’s play. I had been apprenticed, as you may say, to frauds and deceptions--some of them on such a grand scale, and managed so cleverly, that they became famous, and appeared in the newspapers.

Was such a little thing as the keeping of the nightgown likely to weigh on my spirits, and to set my heart sinking within me, at the time when I ought to have spoken to you? What nonsense to ask the question! Before your face--there’s no denying it--I was frightened of you; frightened of making you angry with me; frightened of what you might say to me (though you HAD taken the Diamond) if I presumed to tell you that I had found it out.

I had gone as near to it as I dared when I spoke to you in the library. I tried to provoke myself into feeling angry with you, and to rouse up my courage in that way. You’re a plain girl; you have got a crooked shoulder; you’re only a housemaid--what do you mean by attempting to speak to Me?” You never uttered a word of that, Mr. Franklin; but you said it all to me, nevertheless! Is such madness as this to be accounted for? There is nothing to be done but to confess it, and let it be. “The first person who disturbed me by coming into the empty room was Penelope. She had found out my secret long since, and she had done her best to bring me to my senses--and done it kindly too. Franklin’s visit here to come to an end. I couldn’t speak to Penelope.

‘And a hard matter I have had of it to put up with her temper. She says the house is unbearable to her with the police in it; and she’s determined to speak to my lady this evening, and to go to her Aunt Ablewhite to-morrow. Franklin will be the next to find a reason for going away, you may depend on it!’ “I recovered the use of my tongue at that. ‘Do you mean to say Mr. “‘Only too gladly, if she would let him; but she won’t. HE has been made to feel her temper; HE is in her black books too--and that after having done all he can to help her, poor fellow! If they don’t make it up before to-morrow, you will see Miss Rachel go one way, and Mr. Where he may betake himself to I can’t say. But he will never stay here, Rosanna, after Miss Rachel has left us.’ “I managed to master the despair I felt at the prospect of your going away.

To own the truth, I saw a little glimpse of hope for myself if there was really a serious disagreement between Miss Rachel and you. ‘And, for anything I know to the contrary, it’s all Miss Rachel’s temper, and nothing else. I am loth to distress you, Rosanna; but don’t run away with the notion that Mr. Franklin is ever likely to quarrel with HER. He’s a great deal too fond of her for that!’ “She had only just spoken those cruel words when there came a call to us from Mr. All the indoor servants were to assemble in the hall. And then we were to go in, one by one, and be questioned in Mr. “It came to my turn to go in, after her ladyship’s maid and the upper housemaid had been questioned first.

They had told the Sergeant enough to open his eyes to some part of the truth. He rightly believed me to have made a new nightgown secretly, but he wrongly believed the paint-stained nightgown to be mine. I felt satisfied of another thing, from what he said, which it puzzled me to understand. He appeared to think that I had been acting under the direction of somebody else. It was impossible for me to risk wearing your nightgown any longer. I might find myself taken off, at a moment’s notice, to the police court at Frizinghall, to be charged on suspicion, and searched accordingly. While Sergeant Cuff still left me free, I had to choose--and at once--between destroying the nightgown, or hiding it in some safe place, at some safe distance from the house. If we did come to an explanation together, and if you suspected me of having some bad motive, and denied it all, how could I win upon you to trust me, unless I had the nightgown to produce? Was it wronging you to believe, as I did and do still, that you might hesitate to let a poor girl like me be the sharer of your secret, and your accomplice in the theft which your money-troubles had tempted you to commit? Think of your cold behaviour to me, sir, and you will hardly wonder at my unwillingness to destroy the only claim on your confidence and your gratitude which it was my fortune to possess.

“I determined to hide it; and the place I fixed on was the place I knew best--the Shivering Sand. “As soon as the questioning was over, I made the first excuse that came into my head, and got leave to go out for a breath of fresh air. I went straight to Cobb’s Hole, to Mr. All I wanted was to write this letter to you, and to have a safe opportunity of taking the nightgown off me. And then I shall go to the Shivering Sand--don’t be afraid of my letting my footmarks betray me!--and hide the nightgown down in the sand, where no living creature can find it without being first let into the secret by myself. Franklin, I shall have two reasons for making another attempt to say the words to you which I have not said yet. If you leave the house, as Penelope believes you will leave it, and if I haven’t spoken to you before that, I shall lose my opportunity forever.

Then, again, there is the comforting knowledge--if my speaking does make you angry--that I have got the nightgown ready to plead my cause for me as nothing else can. If these two together don’t harden my heart against the coldness which has hitherto frozen it up (I mean the coldness of your treatment of me), there will be the end of my efforts--and the end of my life. If I miss my next opportunity--if you are as cruel as ever, and if I feel it again as I have felt it already--good-bye to the world which has grudged me the happiness that it gives to others. Good-bye to life, which nothing but a little kindness from you can ever make pleasurable to me again.

But try--do try--to feel some forgiving sorrow for me! Will you say something kind of me then--in the same gentle way that you have when you speak to Miss Rachel? How am I to see my way to the hiding-place if I let these useless tears come and blind me? I may find you in a good humour to-night--or, if not, I may succeed better to-morrow morning. They will go, for safety’s sake (never mind now for what other reason) into the hiding-place along with the nightgown.

“I beg to remain, sir, your true lover and humble servant, “ROSANNA SPEARMAN.” The reading of the letter was completed by Betteredge in silence. “Betteredge,” I said, “is there any hint to guide me at the end of the letter?” He looked up slowly, with a heavy sigh. “There is nothing to guide you, Mr. “If you take my advice you will keep the letter in the cover till these present anxieties of yours have come to an end.

Twice over, the unhappy woman had made her last attempt to speak to me. And twice over, it had been my misfortune (God knows how innocently!) to repel the advances she had made to me. Her manner and language suggested to me and would have suggested to any man, under the circumstances--that she was about to confess a guilty knowledge of the disappearance of the Diamond. I had sent her away from me, wounded to the heart! On the Saturday again--on the day when she must have foreseen, after what Penelope had told her, that my departure was close at hand--the same fatality still pursued us. She had once more attempted to meet me in the shrubbery walk, and she had found me there in company with Betteredge and Sergeant Cuff. In her hearing, the Sergeant, with his own underhand object in view, had appealed to my interest in Rosanna Spearman. Again for the poor creature’s own sake, I had met the police-officer with a flat denial, and had declared--loudly declared, so that she might hear me too--that I felt “no interest whatever in Rosanna Spearman.” At those words, solely designed to warn her against attempting to gain my private ear, she had turned away and left the place: cautioned of her danger, as I then believed; self-doomed to destruction, as I know now. From that point, I have already traced the succession of events which led me to the astounding discovery at the quicksand. I may leave the miserable story of Rosanna Spearman--to which, even at this distance of time, I cannot revert without a pang of distress--to suggest for itself all that is here purposely left unsaid.

I may pass from the suicide at the Shivering Sand, with its strange and terrible influence on my present position and future prospects, to interests which concern the living people of this narrative, and to events which were already paving my way for the slow and toilsome journey from the darkness to the light. CHAPTER VI I walked to the railway station accompanied, it is needless to say, by Gabriel Betteredge. I had the letter in my pocket, and the nightgown safely packed in a little bag--both to be submitted, before I slept that night, to the investigation of Mr. For the first time in my experience of him, I found old Betteredge in my company without a word to say to me. Having something to say on my side, I opened the conversation as soon as we were clear of the lodge gates. “Before I go to London,” I began, “I have two questions to ask you. They relate to myself, and I believe they will rather surprise you.” “If they will put that poor creature’s letter out of my head, Mr. Please to begin surprising me, sir, as soon as you can.” “My first question, Betteredge, is this.

Franklin that you only drink with your dinner, and never touch a drop of liquor afterwards!” “But the birthday was a special occasion. You looked wretchedly ill--and we persuaded you to have a drop of brandy and water to cheer you up a little.” “I am not used to brandy and water. I knew you were not used, too. It was plainly impossible that I could have been intoxicated. I passed on to the second question.

Now tell me plainly, do you remember anything strange of me, after I had gone to bed at night?

Did you ever discover me walking in my sleep?” Betteredge stopped, looked at me for a moment, nodded his head, and walked on again. Franklin!” he said “You’re trying to account for how you got the paint on your nightgown, without knowing it yourself.

If I had been a sleep-walker, there were hundreds on hundreds of people who must have discovered me, and who, in the interest of my own safety, would have warned me of the habit, and have taken precautions to restrain it. Still, admitting all this, I clung--with an obstinacy which was surely natural and excusable, under the circumstances--to one or other of the only two explanations that I could see which accounted for the unendurable position in which I then stood. Observing that I was not yet satisfied, Betteredge shrewdly adverted to certain later events in the history of the Moonstone; and scattered both my theories to the wind at once and for ever. “Keep your own opinion, and see how far it will take you towards finding out the truth. If we are to believe the nightgown--which I don’t for one--you not only smeared off the paint from the door, without knowing it, but you also took the Diamond without knowing it. We’ll say you were drunk, or walking in your sleep, when you took the jewel. The Diamond has been taken to London, since that time. The Diamond has been pledged to Mr. Did you do those two things, without knowing it, too? And did you walk in your sleep to Mr.

Luker’s, when the train had brought you to your journey’s end? Franklin, but this business has so upset you, that you’re not fit yet to judge for yourself. Bruff’s head, the sooner you will see your way out of the dead-lock that has got you now.” We reached the station, with only a minute or two to spare. I hurriedly gave Betteredge my address in London, so that he might write to me, if necessary; promising, on my side, to inform him of any news which I might have to communicate. This done, and just as I was bidding him farewell, I happened to glance towards the book-and-newspaper stall. Candy’s remarkable-looking assistant again, speaking to the keeper of the stall! Ezra Jennings took off his hat to me. I returned the salute, and got into a carriage just as the train started. It was a relief to my mind, I suppose, to dwell on any subject which appeared to be, personally, of no sort of importance to me. At all events, I began the momentous journey back which was to take me to Mr.

I drove from the railway to his private residence at Hampstead, and disturbed the old lawyer dozing alone in his dining-room, with his favourite pug-dog on his lap, and his bottle of wine at his elbow. I shall best describe the effect which my story produced on the mind of Mr. Bruff by relating his proceedings when he had heard it to the end.

He ordered lights, and strong tea, to be taken into his study; and he sent a message to the ladies of his family, forbidding them to disturb us on any pretence whatever. These preliminaries disposed of, he first examined the nightgown, and then devoted himself to the reading of Rosanna Spearman’s letter. Bruff addressed me for the first time since we had been shut up together in the seclusion of his own room.

She believes you have stolen the Diamond.” I had shrunk from reasoning my own way fairly to that revolting conclusion.

My resolution to obtain a personal interview with Rachel, rested really and truly on the ground just stated by Mr. “The first step to take in this investigation,” the lawyer proceeded, “is to appeal to Rachel. It is impossible, after what has happened, to submit to that silence any longer. She must be persuaded to tell us, or she must be forced to tell us, on what grounds she bases her belief that you took the Moonstone. The chances are, that the whole of this case, serious as it seems now, will tumble to pieces, if we can only break through Rachel’s inveterate reserve, and prevail upon her to speak out.” “That is a very comforting opinion for me,” I said. “I own I should like to know.” “You would like to know how I can justify it,” inter-posed Mr. I admit that the mark of the name proves the nightgown to be yours. I admit that the mark of the paint proves the nightgown to have made the smear on Rachel’s door. But what evidence is there to prove that you are the person who wore it, on the night when the Diamond was lost?” The objection struck me, all the more forcibly that it reflected an objection which I had felt myself.

“As to this,” pursued the lawyer taking up Rosanna Spearman’s confession, “I can understand that the letter is a distressing one to YOU. I can understand that you may hesitate to analyse it from a purely impartial point of view. I can bring my professional experience to bear on this document, just as I should bring it to bear on any other. Without alluding to the woman’s career as a thief, I will merely remark that her letter proves her to have been an adept at deception, on her own showing; and I argue from that, that I am justified in suspecting her of not having told the whole truth. I won’t start any theory, at present, as to what she may or may not have done.

I will only say that, if Rachel has suspected you ON THE EVIDENCE OF THE NIGHTGOWN ONLY, the chances are ninety-nine to a hundred that Rosanna Spearman was the person who showed it to her. I don’t stop to ask who took the Moonstone (as a means to her end, Rosanna Spearman would have taken fifty Moonstones)--I only say that the disappearance of the jewel gave this reclaimed thief who was in love with you, an opportunity of setting you and Rachel at variance for the rest of your lives. She had not decided on destroying herself, THEN, remember; and, having the opportunity, I distinctly assert that it was in her character, and in her position at the time, to take it. What do you say to that?” “Some such suspicion,” I answered, “crossed my own mind, as soon as I opened the letter.” “Exactly! And when you had read the letter, you pitied the poor creature, and couldn’t find it in your heart to suspect her.

“But assuming the proof to be possible, the vindication of your innocence would be no easy matter. We won’t go into that, now. “What right has she to suspect Me, on any evidence, of being a thief?” “A very sensible question, my dear sir. What puzzles you, puzzles me too. Did anything happen while you were staying at the house--not, of course, to shake Rachel’s belief in your honour--but, let us say, to shake her belief (no matter with how little reason) in your principles generally?” I started, in ungovernable agitation, to my feet.

In the eighth chapter of Betteredge’s Narrative, an allusion will be found to the arrival of a foreigner and a stranger at my aunt’s house, who came to see me on business. I had been foolish enough (being, as usual, straitened for money at the time) to accept a loan from the keeper of a small restaurant in Paris, to whom I was well known as a customer. A time was settled between us for paying the money back; and when the time came, I found it (as thousands of other honest men have found it) impossible to keep my engagement. My name was unfortunately too well known on such documents: he failed to negotiate it. His affairs had fallen into disorder, in the interval since I had borrowed of him; bankruptcy stared him in the face; and a relative of his, a French lawyer, came to England to find me, and to insist upon the payment of my debt. He was a man of violent temper; and he took the wrong way with me. The Frenchman produced his credentials, and declared me to be responsible for the ruin of a poor man, who had trusted in my honour. She knew me better of course than to take the Frenchman’s view of the transaction.

Either her mother told her, or Rachel heard what passed--I can’t say which. She took her own romantic, high-flown view of the matter. I was “heartless”; I was “dishonourable”; I had “no principle”; there was “no knowing what I might do next”--in short, she said some of the severest things to me which I had ever heard from a young lady’s lips. Had Rachel reverted to this unlucky accident, at the critical moment when my place in her estimation was again, and far more seriously, assailed? Bruff, when I had mentioned the circumstances to him, answered the question at once in the affirmative. Our next step in this inquiry must be the step that takes us to Rachel.” He rose, and began walking thoughtfully up and down the room. Twice, I was on the point of telling him that I had determined on seeing Rachel personally; and twice, having regard to his age and his character, I hesitated to take him by surprise at an unfavourable moment. “The grand difficulty is,” he resumed, “how to make her show her whole mind in this matter, without reserve.

Have you any suggestions to offer?” “I have made up my mind, Mr. Bruff, to speak to Rachel myself.” “You!” He suddenly stopped in his walk, and looked at me as if he thought I had taken leave of my senses. “You, of all the people in the world!” He abruptly checked himself, and took another turn in the room. “You have a chance in your favour which I don’t possess--and you shall be the first to try the experiment.” “A chance in my favour?” I repeated, in the greatest surprise. Bruff’s face softened, for the first time, into a smile. Touch that--and trust to the consequences for the fullest disclosures that can flow from a woman’s lips! The question is--how are you to see her?” “She has been a guest of yours at this house,” I answered. “May I venture to suggest--if nothing was said about me beforehand--that I might see her here?” “Cool!” said Mr. With that one word of comment on the reply that I had made to him, he took another turn up and down the room. “In plain English,” he said, “my house is to be turned into a trap to catch Rachel; with a bait to tempt her, in the shape of an invitation from my wife and daughters.

If you were anybody else but Franklin Blake, and if this matter was one atom less serious than it really is, I should refuse point-blank. As things are, I firmly believe Rachel will live to thank me for turning traitor to her in my old age. Rachel shall be asked to spend the day here; and you shall receive due notice of it.” “When? To-morrow?” “To-morrow won’t give us time enough to get her answer. Say the day after.” “How shall I hear from you?” “Stay at home all the morning and expect me to call on you.” I thanked him for the inestimable assistance which he was rendering to me, with the gratitude that I really felt; and, declining a hospitable invitation to sleep that night at Hampstead, returned to my lodgings in London. Of the day that followed, I have only to say that it was the longest day of my life. Innocent as I knew myself to be, certain as I was that the abominable imputation which rested on me must sooner or later be cleared off, there was nevertheless a sense of self-abasement in my mind which instinctively disinclined me to see any of my friends. I believe it to be infinitely the truer axiom of the two that innocence can look like guilt. I caused myself to be denied all day, to every visitor who called; and I only ventured out under cover of the night.

“Is she coming?” “She is coming to-day, to lunch and spend the afternoon with my wife and my girls.” “Are Mrs. The end being to bring you and Rachel together again, my wife and daughters pass over the means employed to gain it, as composedly as if they were Jesuits.” “I am infinitely obliged to them.

Let yourself into the garden, and make your way in by the conservatory door. Cross the small drawing-room, and open the door in front of you which leads into the music-room. I had many weary hours still to wait through. To while away the time, I looked at my letters. To my surprise and disappointment, it began with an apology warning me to expect no news of any importance. He had stopped Betteredge on the way out of the station, and had asked who I was.

Informed on this point, he had mentioned having seen me to his master Mr. Candy hearing of this, had himself driven over to Betteredge, to express his regret at our having missed each other.

He had a reason for wishing particularly to speak to me; and when I was next in the neighbourhood of Frizinghall, he begged I would let him know. The warm-hearted, faithful old man acknowledged that he had written “mainly for the pleasure of writing to me.” I crumpled up the letter in my pocket, and forgot it the moment after, in the all-absorbing interest of my coming interview with Rachel. Bruff’s key into the lock of the door in the wall. When I first stepped into the garden, and while I was securing the door again on the inner side, I own to having felt a certain guilty doubtfulness about what might happen next. Nothing appeared, to justify my apprehensions. I passed through the garden; entered the conservatory; and crossed the small drawing-room.

I was obliged to wait a little, to steady myself. 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. 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.

There was a moment when I thought the kisses were returned; a moment when it seemed as if she, too might have forgotten. She looked me over, from head to foot, as she might have looked at a stranger who had insulted her. 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.

She answered in a low tone, with a sullen submission of manner which was quite new in my experience of her. “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. I ought to have known it couldn’t be your view.

Have I no claim to be spared the insult of your asking me what you have done?

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. I have come here with something serious to say to you. 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. From beginning to end, she never looked round at me, and she never uttered a word. 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. 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. “Have you some object to gain which I don’t understand?

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 have a right to know, and I WILL know, the reason why!” “Suspect you!” she exclaimed, her anger rising with mine. 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. The sudden silence that had fallen upon me seemed to frighten her. “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. 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.

My touch seemed to have the same effect on her which the sound of my voice had produced when I first entered the room. I drew her gently back into the middle of the room. “Rachel,” I said, “I can’t explain the contradiction in what I am going to tell you. Before God who hears us, I declare that I now know I took it for the first time! Her head sank on my shoulder; and her hand unconsciously closed on mine, at the moment when she asked me to release it. 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. 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. 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. 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. Did you go to bed? or did you sit up?” “I went to bed.” “Did you notice the time?

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. “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 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. The candle in your hand showed it to me.” “Were my eyes open?” “Yes.” “Did you notice anything strange in them? 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 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 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. 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?” “No.” “Did I leave the room immediately?” “No. You stood quite still, for what seemed a long time.

You passed out quickly into the passage, and left the door open.” “And then?” “Then, your light disappeared, and the sound of your steps died away, and I was left alone in the dark.” “Did nothing happen--from that time, to the time when the whole house knew that the Diamond was lost?” “Nothing.” “Are you sure of that?

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 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? 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.

What have you to say now?” The tone in which she spoke warned me that my influence over her was a lost influence once more. “We were to look at what happened on my birthday night, together,” she went on; “and we were then to understand each other. “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. 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!

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.

It seems that I owe a justification of my conduct to you. 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. “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. 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.

In those words I wrote to you. 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. “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 tore it up.

I preferred tearing it up to throwing it away upon such a man as you! 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. 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. 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. 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! 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! 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?

“Any other woman living would shrink from the disgrace of touching him!” she exclaimed. 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. 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. “Are you going back to Hampstead?” I asked, by way of saying something. 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. 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.

He put down his hat, and drew his chair nearer to mine. 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 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. “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. 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. “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.

Do we know who did?” “No.” “Where do we believe the Moonstone to be now?” “Deposited in the keeping of Mr. 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. 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. “It might have never entered my head, but for a conversation we had together some time since. 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.

My existence will be simply unendurable to me, unless I do something towards clearing my character at once.” “Well, well, I understand that. It’s useless to expect the Sergeant to help you.” “I know where to find him; and I can but try.” “Try,” said Mr. 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. 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. 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. 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. Cuff’s away to inquire into it.” “Do you know when he will be back?” “It’s quite uncertain, sir.

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. 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. 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. 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?

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. 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. or, later, when I rode over to Frizinghall?

or, later again, when I put the Moonstone into Rachel’s hands? 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.

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. 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. With the plan of proceeding which I now had in view, it was first necessary to possess the complete list of the guests. 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.

My thoughts went back again obstinately to the birthday dinner.

Bruff--no: I called to mind that business had prevented Mr. 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 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. 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. 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. 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.

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. 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 was to cross to Ostend; and his servant believed he was going on to Brussels.

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. 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.

The doctor had expressed a special wish to see me, and the doctor lived in the next street.

So to Mr. 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. 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. 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, in which the late Lady Verinder’s friends all took some interest. 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. 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 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! “You had something to say to me, the next time I was in your neighbourhood.

Candy, here I am!” “Here you are!” echoed the doctor. I had something to say to you. At his age, what a memory!” He dropped back into silence, and began picking at his fingers again. “We last saw each other at the last birthday dinner my poor aunt was ever to give.” “That’s it!” cried Mr. “The birthday dinner!” He started impulsively to his feet, and looked at me. 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. 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. 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 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.

“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. “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. 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. Trumpery little scandals and quarrels in the town, some of them as much as a month old, appeared to recur to his memory readily. 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. Candy reverted to the birthday festival of his own accord. Blake, to speak to you. 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. CHAPTER IX 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. 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. “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. “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. 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.

“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. 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. 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. “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. It may be possible to trace Mr. Candy’s lost recollection, without the necessity of appealing to Mr. Is it an indiscretion, on my part, to ask how?” “By no means.

May I trust to your patience, if I refer once more to Mr. You have interested me already in hearing the details.” My eagerness seemed to amuse--perhaps, I might rather say, to please him. 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. 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.

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. 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. “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. 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.

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. The two doctors took offence at my obstinacy. 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 house.” “You had assumed a serious responsibility,” I said. Candy had taken you into his employment, under circumstances which made you his debtor for life. 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. 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. 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. 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. Blake, of properly introducing to you what I have to say next. 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. 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. I told you he was delirious, I think? And I mentioned the time at which his delirium came on?” “Yes.” “Well, I had reached a section of my book, at that time, which touched on 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. 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. 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. 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.

And I have got the links of my own discovering which connect those words together, on another sheet of paper.

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. “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. 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. 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.

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.

“I am sorry to have raised your expectations, Mr. Blake, only to disappoint them,” he said.

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. Blake, that I can be of no use to you.” His voice told me that he spoke sincerely. 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. 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 called him back--and then I said to myself, “Now there is no help for it.

I advanced along the road to meet him. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. He tossed his little nosegay of wild flowers away from him, as if the remembrances which it recalled were remembrances which hurt him now. I am a man whose life is a wreck, and whose character is gone.” I attempted to speak.

He stopped me. Don’t commit yourself to expressions of sympathy which you may afterwards wish to recall. I cannot bring myself to acknowledge what the accusation is. It is useless to appeal to my honour as a man.” He paused again. 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. 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 parted with the woman I loved--how could I condemn her to share my disgrace? Evil report, with time and chance to help it, travels patiently, and travels far. I was able to leave my situation voluntarily, with the testimonials that I had earned. Time passed again; and again the slander that was death to my character found me out. 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. 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. I referred him, on the question of capacity, to my last employer. I told him what I have told you--and more.

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 it.” “The slander has died out?” I said. But when it follows me here, it will come too late.” “You will have left the place?” “No, Mr. 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.

To that all-potent and all-merciful drug I am indebted for a respite of many years from my sentence of death. The progress of the disease has gradually forced me from the use of opium to the abuse of it. 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. 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.

It rests with you, sir, to say what you proposed saying, or to wish me good morning.” I had but one answer to make to that appeal. Without a moment’s hesitation I told him the truth, as unreservedly as I have told it in these pages. He started to his feet, and looked at me with breathless eagerness as I approached the leading incident of my story. “It is certain that I went into the room,” I said; “it is certain that I took the Diamond.

“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? Candy wanted to say to you this morning, in the notes that I took at my patient’s bedside. 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. 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. “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. 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.

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. CHAPTER X How the interval of suspense in which I was now condemned might have affected other men in my position, I cannot pretend to say. 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. 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. 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; a sink of water, with a basin and waste-pipe roughly let into the wall, horribly suggestive of its connection with surgical operations--comprised the entire furniture of the room. Here, they came in as intruders on a silence which nothing but human suffering had the privilege to disturb.

I looked at the mahogany instrument case, and at the huge roll of lint, occupying places of their own on the book-shelves, and shuddered inwardly as I thought of the sounds, familiar and appropriate to the everyday use of Ezra Jennings’ room. Here are my papers ready for you; and here are two books to which we may have occasion to refer, before we have done. Bring your chair to the table, and we shall be able to consult them together.” I drew up to the table; and Ezra Jennings handed me his manuscript notes. The other presented writing, in red and black ink, which completely filled the page from top to bottom. “Tell me what I am to expect, before I attempt to read this.” “Willingly, Mr. “You have already told me,” he said, “that you have never--to your knowledge--tasted opium in your life.” “To my knowledge,” I repeated. On the night of the birthday, however, there was an exception to the rule--you slept soundly.

Betteredge attributed your sleeplessness to something. To what?” “To my leaving off smoking.” “Had you been an habitual smoker?” “Yes.” “Did you leave off the habit suddenly?” “Yes.” “Betteredge was perfectly right, Mr. When smoking is a habit a man must have no common constitution who can leave it off suddenly without some temporary damage to his nervous system. Your sleepless nights are accounted for, to my mind. My next question refers to Mr. Do you remember having entered into anything like a dispute with him--at the birthday dinner, or afterwards--on the subject of his profession?” The question instantly awakened one of my dormant remembrances in connection with the birthday festival. The foolish wrangle which took place, on that occasion, between Mr.

The details there presented of the dispute--so little had I thought of it afterwards--entirely failed to recur to my memory.

All that I could now recall, and all that I could tell Ezra Jennings was, that I had attacked the art of medicine at the dinner-table with sufficient rashness and sufficient pertinacity to put even Mr. I also remembered that Lady Verinder had interfered to stop the dispute, and that the little doctor and I had “made it up again,” as the children say, and had become as good friends as ever, before we shook hands that night. I knew it to be the object of a conspiracy; and I was warned to take measures for Miss Verinder’s protection, as the possessor of the stone.” “Was the safety of the Diamond the subject of conversation between you and any other person, immediately before you retired to rest on the birthday night?” “It was the subject of a conversation between Lady Verinder and her daughter----” “Which took place in your hearing?” “Yes.” Ezra Jennings took up his notes from the table, and placed them in my hands. Blake,” he said, “if you read those notes now, by the light which my questions and your answers have thrown on them, you will make two astounding discoveries concerning yourself.

You will find--First, that you entered Miss Verinder’s sitting-room and took the Diamond, in a state of trance, produced by opium.

Secondly, that the opium was given to you by Mr. Candy--without your own knowledge--as a practical refutation of the opinions which you had expressed to him at the birthday dinner.” I sat with the papers in my hand completely stupefied. If you will look at the notes, you will see that--but for his illness--he would have returned to Lady Verinder’s the morning after the party, and would have acknowledged the trick that he had played you. Miss Verinder would have heard of it, and Miss Verinder would have questioned him--and the truth which has laid hidden for a year would have been discovered in a day.” I began to regain my self-possession. The ignorant distrust of opium (in England) is by no means confined to the lower and less cultivated classes.

Every doctor in large practice finds himself, every now and then, obliged to deceive his patients, as Mr.

“Who gave me the laudanum, without my knowing it myself?” “I am not able to tell you. Nothing relating to that part of the matter dropped from Mr. Perhaps your own memory may point to the person to be suspected.” “No.” “It is useless, in that case, to pursue the inquiry. The laudanum was secretly given to you in some way. Let us leave it there, and go on to matters of more immediate importance. I have something very bold and very startling to propose to you, which relates to the future.” Those last words roused me. to-morrow morning... medicine to-day... medicine now.” There, the first of the two sheets of paper came to an end.

I handed it back to Ezra Jennings. He reiterated certain words and phrases a dozen times over, fifty times over, just as he attached more or less importance to the idea which they represented. The repetitions, in this sense, were of some assistance to me in putting together those fragments. Don’t suppose,” he added, pointing to the second sheet of paper, “that I claim to have reproduced the expressions which Mr. I only say that I have penetrated through the obstacle of the disconnected expression, to the thought which was underlying it connectedly all the time. Judge for yourself.” I turned to the second sheet of paper, which I now knew to be the key to the first. I reproduce the result here, in one plain form; the original language and the interpretation of it coming close enough together in these pages to be easily compared and verified. I tell him that his nerves are out of order, and that he ought to take medicine. I say to him, you are groping after sleep, and nothing but medicine can help you to find it. He says to me, I have heard of the blind leading the blind, and now I know what it means.

Give him five-and-twenty minims of laudanum to-night, without his knowing it; and then call to-morrow morning. Blake, will you try a little medicine to-day? ‘You have had something besides an excellent night’s rest; you had a dose of laudanum, sir, before you went to bed.

What do you say to the art of medicine, now?’” Admiration of the ingenuity which had woven this smooth and finished texture out of the ravelled skein was naturally the first impression that I felt, on handing the manuscript back to Ezra Jennings. “Do you believe as I believe,” he said, “that you were acting under the influence of the laudanum in doing all that you did, on the night of Miss Verinder’s birthday, in Lady Verinder’s house?” “I am too ignorant of the influence of laudanum to have an opinion of my own,” I answered. You are convinced; and I am convinced--how are we to carry our conviction to the minds of other people?” I pointed to the two manuscripts, lying on the table between us. Against them, to begin with! In the third place, those notes are of my making; there is nothing but my assertion to the contrary, to guarantee that they are not fabrications. Remember what I told you on the moor--and ask yourself what my assertion is worth. my notes have but one value, looking to the verdict of the world outside. Your innocence is to be vindicated; and they show how it can be done. We must put our conviction to the proof--and You are the man to prove it!” “How?” I asked. He leaned eagerly nearer to me across the table that divided us.

“Are you willing to try a bold experiment?” “I will do anything to clear myself of the suspicion that rests on me now.” “Will you submit to some personal inconvenience for a time?” “To any inconvenience, no matter what it may be.” “Will you be guided implicitly by my advice? It may expose you to the ridicule of fools; it may subject you to the remonstrances of friends whose opinions you are bound to respect.” “Tell me what to do!” I broke out impatiently. “You shall steal the Diamond, unconsciously, for the second time, in the presence of witnesses whose testimony is beyond dispute.” I started to my feet. I tried to speak. Try to compose yourself--sit down, and hear what I have to say to you.

Suddenly, mind!--as you gave it up before.” I began dimly to see his drift. We shall have put you back again into something assimilating to your nervous condition on the birthday night. In that case we may fairly hope that a repetition of the dose will lead, in a greater or lesser degree, to a repetition of the result. You shall now see what reasons I have to justify me in making it.” He turned to one of the books at his side, and opened it at a place marked by a small slip of paper. “Don’t suppose that I am going to weary you with a lecture on physiology,” he said. “I think myself bound to prove, in justice to both of us, that I am not asking you to try this experiment in deference to any theory of my own devising.

Give me five minutes of your attention; and I will undertake to show you that Science sanctions my proposal, fanciful as it may seem. It contained a few lines of writing, as follows:-- “There seems much ground for the belief, that every sensory impression which has once been recognised by the perceptive consciousness, is registered (so to speak) in the brain, and may be reproduced at some subsequent time, although there may be no consciousness of its existence in the mind during the whole intermediate period.” “Is that plain, so far?” asked Ezra Jennings. “Perfectly plain.” He pushed the open book across the table to me, and pointed to a passage, marked by pencil lines.

“Now,” he said, “read that account of a case, which has--as I believe--a direct bearing on your own position, and on the experiment which I am tempting you to try. Blake, before you begin, that I am now referring you to one of the greatest of English physiologists. The book in your hand is Doctor Elliotson’s HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY; and the case which the doctor cites rests on the well-known authority of Mr. Combe.” The passage pointed out to me was expressed in these terms:-- “Dr. Combe, “of an Irish porter to a warehouse, who forgot, when sober, what he had done when drunk; but, being drunk, again recollected the transactions of his former state of intoxication. Next time he was intoxicated, he recollected that he had left the parcel at a certain house, and there being no address on it, it had remained there safely, and was got on his calling for it.” “Plain again?” asked Ezra Jennings.

“Are you satisfied that I have not spoken without good authority to support me?” he asked. “If not, I have only to go to those bookshelves, and you have only to read the passages which I can point out to you.” “I am quite satisfied,” I said, “without reading a word more.” “In that case, we may return to your own personal interest in this matter. I am bound to tell you that there is something to be said against the experiment as well as for it. We can only hope to approximate to the conditions; and if we don’t succeed in getting you nearly enough back to what you were, this venture of ours will fail. If we do succeed--and I am myself hopeful of success--you may at least so far repeat your proceedings on the birthday night, as to satisfy any reasonable person that you are guiltless, morally speaking, of the theft of the Diamond.

If there is anything that I have not made clear to you, tell me what it is--and if I can enlighten you, I will.” “All that you have explained to me,” I said, “I understand perfectly. But I own I am puzzled on one point, which you have not made clear to me yet.” “What is the point?” “I don’t understand the effect of the laudanum on me. I don’t understand my walking down-stairs, and along corridors, and my opening and shutting the drawers of a cabinet, and my going back again to my own room.

I thought the influence of opium was first to stupefy you, and then to send you to sleep.” “The common error about opium, Mr. Candy administered to you. But don’t trust to my authority--even on a question which comes within my own personal experience. At the passage which I have marked, you will find that when De Quincey had committed what he calls ‘a debauch of opium,’ he either went to the gallery at the Opera to enjoy the music, or he wandered about the London markets on Saturday night, and interested himself in observing all the little shifts and bargainings of the poor in providing their Sunday’s dinner. So much for the capacity of a man to occupy himself actively, and to move about from place to place under the influence of opium.” “I am answered so far,” I said; “but I am not answered yet as to the effect produced by the opium on myself.” “I will try to answer you in a few words,” said Ezra Jennings. Under the stimulating influence, the latest and most vivid impressions left on your mind--namely, the impressions relating to the Diamond--would be likely, in your morbidly sensitive nervous condition, to become intensified in your brain, and would subordinate to themselves your judgment and your will exactly as an ordinary dream subordinates to itself your judgment and your will. Little by little, under this action, any apprehensions about the safety of the Diamond which you might have felt during the day would be liable to develop themselves from the state of doubt to the state of certainty--would impel you into practical action to preserve the jewel--would direct your steps, with that motive in view, into the room which you entered--and would guide your hand to the drawers of the cabinet, until you had found the drawer which held the stone. In the spiritualised intoxication of opium, you would do all that.

Later, as the sedative action began to gain on the stimulant action, you would slowly become inert and stupefied. Later still you would fall into a deep sleep. Have I made it tolerably clear to you so far?” “You have made it so clear,” I said, “that I want you to go farther. You have shown me how I entered the room, and how I came to take the Diamond. Can you guess what I did next?” “That is the very point I was coming to,” he rejoined. When you left Miss Verinder’s sitting-room, with the jewel in your hand, you went back in all probability to your own room----” “Yes? Blake--I dare not say more--that your idea of preserving the Diamond led, by a natural sequence, to the idea of hiding the Diamond, and that the place in which you hid it was somewhere in your bedroom. You may remember, under the influence of the second dose of opium, the place in which you hid the Diamond under the influence of the first.” It was my turn, now, to enlighten Ezra Jennings.

I stopped him, before he could say any more. “How did it get to London from Lady Verinder’s house?” “Nobody knows.” “You removed it with your own hand from Miss Verinder’s room.

there seems to be something here which wants clearing up. May I ask how you know that the Diamond is, at this moment, in London?” I had put precisely the same question to Mr. Bruff when I made my first inquiries about the Moonstone, on my return to England. In answering Ezra Jennings, I accordingly repeated what I had myself heard from the lawyer’s own lips--and what is already familiar to the readers of these pages. “With all deference to you,” he said, “and with all deference to your legal adviser, I maintain the opinion which I expressed just now. Pardon me for reminding you, that your opinion also rests on a mere assumption as well.” The view he took of the matter was entirely new to me. I waited anxiously to hear how he would defend it. “I assume,” pursued Ezra Jennings, “that the influence of the opium--after impelling you to possess yourself of the Diamond, with the purpose of securing its safety--might also impel you, acting under the same influence and the same motive, to hide it somewhere in your own room. YOU assume that the Hindoo conspirators could by no possibility commit a mistake. The Indians went to Mr.

Have you any evidence to prove that the Moonstone was taken to London at all? Have you any evidence that the jewel was pledged to Mr. He declares that he never heard of the Moonstone; and his bankers’ receipt acknowledges nothing but the deposit of a valuable of great price. “Do you object to my writing to Mr. Bruff, and telling him what you have said?” “On the contrary, I shall be glad if you will write to Mr.

For the present, let us return to our experiment with the opium. The next step is to reproduce, as nearly as we can, the domestic circumstances which surrounded you last year.” How was this to be done? It was simply impossible to reassemble the people who had inhabited the house, when I had slept in it last. The statement of this objection did not appear to embarrass Ezra Jennings. He attached very little importance, he said, to reassembling the same people--seeing that it would be vain to expect them to reassume the various positions which they had occupied towards me in the past times. On the other hand, he considered it essential to the success of the experiment, that I should see the same objects about me which had surrounded me when I was last in the house. The stairs, the corridors, and Miss Verinder’s sitting-room, must also be restored to what they were when you saw them last. Blake, to replace every article of furniture in that part of the house which may now be put away. The sacrifice of your cigars will be useless, unless we can get Miss Verinder’s permission to do that.” “Who is to apply to her for permission?” I asked.

“Is it not possible for you to apply?” “Quite out of the question. After what has passed between us on the subject of the lost Diamond, I can neither see her, nor write to her, as things are now.” Ezra Jennings paused, and considered for a moment. I signed to him to go on. Blake, in fancying (from one or two things which have dropped from you) that you felt no common interest in Miss Verinder, in former times?” “Quite right.” “Was the feeling returned?” “It was.” “Do you think Miss Verinder would be likely to feel a strong interest in the attempt to prove your innocence?” “I am certain of it.” “In that case, I will write to Miss Verinder--if you will give me leave.” “Telling her of the proposal that you have made to me?” “Telling her of everything that has passed between us to-day.” It is needless to say that I eagerly accepted the service which he had offered to me. “I shall have time to write by to-day’s post,” he said, looking at his watch.

“Don’t forget to lock up your cigars, when you get back to the hotel! I will call to-morrow morning and hear how you have passed the night.” I rose to take leave of him; and attempted to express the grateful sense of his kindness which I really felt. “Remember what I told you on the moor,” he answered. With some interruption from patients, and some interruption from pain, I finished my letter to Miss Verinder in time for to-day’s post. I failed to make it as short a letter as I could have wished. If she consents to assist the experiment, she consents of her own free will, and not as a favour to Mr. Franklin Blake or to me. At one time I was whirling through empty space with the phantoms of the dead, friends and enemies together. My bad night made it late in the morning, before I could get to Mr.

“A miserable, restless night; and a total failure of appetite this morning. If we allow you to become exhausted, we shall fail in that way. By-the-by, I wrote to Mr. Have you written to Miss Verinder?” “Yes--by last night’s post.” “Very good. We shall have some news worth hearing, to tell each other to-morrow.

I have a word to say to you. You appeared to think, yesterday, that our experiment with the opium was not likely to be viewed very favourably by some of my friends.

I call old Gabriel Betteredge one of my friends; and you will be amused to hear that he protested strongly when I saw him yesterday. Franklin, but this tops them all!’ There is Betteredge’s opinion! You will make allowance for his prejudices, I am sure, if you and he happen to meet?” I left Mr.

Blake, to go my rounds among my patients; feeling the better and the happier even for the short interview that I had had with him. Does it only mean that I feel the contrast between the frankly kind manner in which he has allowed me to become acquainted with him, and the merciless dislike and distrust with which I am met by other people? Or is there really something in him which answers to the yearning that I have for a little human sympathy--the yearning, which has survived the solitude and persecution of many years; which seems to grow keener and keener, as the time comes nearer and nearer when I shall endure and feel no more? How useless to ask these questions! Let that be enough, without seeking to know what the new interest is.

Candy informed me that he was going away for a fortnight, on a visit to a friend in the south of England. Other doctors have superseded HIM; and nobody who can help it will employ me.

It is perhaps fortunate that he is to be away just at this time. He would have been mortified if I had not informed him of the experiment which I am going to try with Mr. And I hardly know what undesirable results might not have happened, if I had taken him into my confidence.

There is no attempt to conceal the interest that she feels in our proceedings. Blake’s innocence, without the slightest need (so far as she is concerned) of putting my assertion to the proof.

The motive underlying all this proceeds evidently from something more than a generous eagerness to make atonement for a wrong which she has innocently inflicted on another person. In more than one place the rapture of discovering that he has deserved to be loved, breaks its way innocently through the stoutest formalities of pen and ink, and even defies the stronger restraint still of writing to a stranger. Is it possible (I ask myself, in reading this delightful letter) that I, of all men in the world, am chosen to be the means of bringing these two young people together again? My own happiness has been trampled under foot; my own love has been torn from me. Shall I live to see a happiness of others, which is of my making--a love renewed, which is of my bringing back? Oh merciful Death, let me see it before your arms enfold me, before your voice whispers to me, “Rest at last!” There are two requests contained in the letter. One of them prevents me from showing it to Mr. I am authorised to tell him that Miss Verinder willingly consents to place her house at our disposal; and, that said, I am desired to add no more. So far, it is easy to comply with her wishes.

Not content with having written to Mr. Betteredge, instructing him to carry out whatever directions I may have to give, Miss Verinder asks leave to assist me, by personally superintending the restoration of her own sitting-room. She only waits a word of reply from me to make the journey to Yorkshire, and to be present as one of the witnesses on the night when the opium is tried for the second time. What she has forbidden me to tell Mr.

Franklin Blake, she is (as I interpret it) eager to tell him with her own lips, BEFORE he is put to the test which is to vindicate his character in the eyes of other people. I understand and admire this generous anxiety to acquit him, without waiting until his innocence may, or may not, be proved. It is the atonement that she is longing to make, poor girl, after having innocently and inevitably wronged him. I have no sort of doubt that the agitation which a meeting between them would produce on both sides--reviving dormant feelings, appealing to old memories, awakening new hopes--would, in their effect on the mind of Mr. Blake, be almost certainly fatal to the success of our experiment.

It is hard enough, as things are, to reproduce in him the conditions as they existed, or nearly as they existed, last year. With new interests and new emotions to agitate him, the attempt would be simply useless. And yet, knowing this, I cannot find it in my heart to disappoint her. I must try if I can discover some new arrangement, before post-time, which will allow me to say Yes to Miss Verinder, without damage to the service which I have bound myself to render to Mr. But he feels it less to-day, having slept after yesterday’s dinner. This after-dinner sleep is the result, no doubt, of the ride which I advised him to take. I fear I shall have to curtail his restorative exercise in the fresh air. He must not be too well; he must not be too ill. I found him eager to know if I had received any answer from Miss Verinder.

I told him exactly what I was permitted to tell, and no more. It was quite needless to invent excuses for not showing him the letter. He told me bitterly enough, poor fellow, that he understood the delicacy which disinclined me to produce it. “But she keeps her own opinion of me, and waits to see the result.” I was sorely tempted to hint that he was now wronging her as she had wronged him. After the experience of the other night, I have been compelled once more to give up my dose of opium. I felt the attack coming on, and left abruptly, so as not to alarm or distress him. It only lasted a quarter of an hour this time, and it left me strength enough to go on with my work. Five o’clock.--I have written my reply to Miss Verinder.

The arrangement I have proposed reconciles the interests on both sides, if she will only consent to it. After first stating the objections that there are to a meeting between Mr. Blake and herself, before the experiment is tried, I have suggested that she should so time her journey as to arrive at the house privately, on the evening when we make the attempt. At that hour, I have undertaken to see Mr. Blake safely into his bedchamber; and so to leave Miss Verinder free to occupy her own rooms until the time comes for administering the laudanum.

When that has been done, there can be no objection to her watching the result, with the rest of us. Blake (if she likes) her correspondence with me, and shall satisfy him in that way that he was acquitted in her estimation, before the question of his innocence was put to the proof. In that sense, I have written to her. This is all that I can do to-day. To-morrow I must see Mr. I foresee, in spite of the penalties which it exacts from me, that I shall have to return to the opium for the hundredth time. If I had only myself to think of, I should prefer the sharp pains to the frightful dreams. If I let myself sink, it may end in my becoming useless to Mr.

It was nearly one o’clock before I could get to the hotel to-day. The visit, even in my shattered condition, proved to be a most amusing one--thanks entirely to the presence on the scene of Gabriel Betteredge. He withdrew to the window and looked out, while I put my first customary question to my patient. It was quite unintelligible to HIS mind, except that it looked like a piece of trickery, akin to the trickery of mesmerism, clairvoyance, and the like. He had put the case (without mentioning names) to an eminent physician; and the eminent physician had smiled, had shaken his head, and had said--nothing. My next inquiry related to the subject of the Diamond. Had the lawyer produced any evidence to prove that the jewel was in London? No, the lawyer had simply declined to discuss the question.

He was himself satisfied that the Moonstone had been pledged to Mr. Under these circumstances, and with the many demands already made on him, he must decline entering into any disputes on the subject of evidence. Bruff was willing to wait for time. Blake had not made it plainer still by reporting the substance of the letter, instead of reading what was actually written--that distrust of me was at the bottom of all this. I was free after that to dismiss Mr. “Can you favour me with your attention, sir?” he inquired, addressing himself to me. Betteredge took a chair and seated himself at the table. He produced a huge old-fashioned leather pocket-book, with a pencil of dimensions to match.

Having put on his spectacles, he opened the pocket-book, at a blank page, and addressed himself to me once more. I am reckoned to have got as pretty a knowledge and experience of the world as most men. Franklin Blake, by a doctor’s assistant with a bottle of laudanum--and by the living jingo, I’m appointed, in my old age, to be conjurer’s boy!” Mr. I attempted to speak. Betteredge held up his hand, in token that he had not done yet. If an order comes to me, which is own brother to an order come from Bedlam, it don’t matter. I may have my own opinion, which is also, you will please to remember, the opinion of Mr.

My young lady says, ‘Do it.’ And I say, ‘Miss, it shall be done.’ Here I am, with my book and my pencil--the latter not pointed so well as I could wish, but when Christians take leave of their senses, who is to expect that pencils will keep their points? I’m determined not to be behind ‘em, or before ‘em, by so much as a hair’s breadth.

“I am very sorry,” I began, “that you and I don’t agree----” “Don’t bring ME, into it!” interposed Betteredge. Blake made me a sign to take him at his word. “I wish certain parts of the house to be reopened,” I said, “and to be furnished, exactly as they were furnished at this time last year.” Betteredge gave his imperfectly-pointed pencil a preliminary lick with his tongue. “First, the inner hall, leading to the chief staircase.” “‘First, the inner hall,’” Betteredge wrote.

“Impossible to furnish that, sir, as it was furnished last year--to begin with.” “Why?” “Because there was a stuffed buzzard, Mr. When the buzzard was put away--he burst.” “We will except the buzzard then.” Betteredge took a note of the exception. “‘The inner hall to be furnished again, as furnished last year. A burst buzzard alone excepted.’ Please to go on, Mr. Jennings.” “The carpet to be laid down on the stairs, as before.” “‘The carpet to be laid down on the stairs, as before.’ Sorry to disappoint you, sir. Jennings--and the like of him for reconciling together a carpet and a corner, is not to be found in all England, look where you may.” “Very well. We must try the next best man in England.” Betteredge took another note; and I went on issuing my directions. “Miss Verinder’s sitting-room to be restored exactly to what it was last year. Also, the corridor leading from the sitting-room to the first landing. Also, the second corridor, leading from the second landing to the best bedrooms.

“There’s a deal of writing left in the point of this pencil yet.” I told him that I had no more directions to give. “Sir,” said Betteredge, “in that case, I have a point or two to put on my own behalf.” He opened the pocket-book at a new page, and gave the inexhaustible pencil another preliminary lick. “I wish to know,” he began, “whether I may, or may not, wash my hands----” “You may decidedly,” said Mr. “I’ll ring for the waiter.” “----of certain responsibilities,” pursued Betteredge, impenetrably declining to see anybody in the room but himself and me. “As to Miss Verinder’s sitting-room, to begin with. When we took up the carpet last year, Mr. “As to the first corridor next,” he resumed. “As to the second corridor,” he went on.

“There having been nothing in it, last year, but the doors of the rooms (to every one of which I can swear, if necessary), my mind is easy, I admit, respecting that part of the house only. But, as to Mr. Franklin’s bedroom (if THAT is to be put back to what it was before), I want to know who is responsible for keeping it in a perpetual state of litter, no matter how often it may be set right--his trousers here, his towels there, and his French novels everywhere. Betteredge obstinately declined to listen to any solution of the difficulty, without first referring it to my sanction and approval. Blake’s proposal; and Betteredge made a last entry in the pocket-book to that effect. Jennings, beginning from to-morrow,” he said, getting on his legs. “You will find me at work, with the necessary persons to assist me. I respectfully beg to thank you, sir, for overlooking the case of the stuffed buzzard, and the other case of the Cupid’s wing--as also for permitting me to wash my hands of all responsibility in respect of the pins on the carpet, and the litter in Mr.

Speaking as a servant, I am deeply indebted to you. Speaking as a man, I consider you to be a person whose head is full of maggots, and I take up my testimony against your experiment as a delusion and a snare. “When we go to the house, we shall find nothing neglected, and nothing forgotten.” June 19th.--Another protest against our contemplated proceedings!

One from Miss Verinder, consenting, in the kindest manner, to the arrangement that I have proposed. Merridew presents her compliments, and does not pretend to understand the subject on which I have been corresponding with Miss Verinder, in its scientific bearings. Viewed in its social bearings, however, she feels free to pronounce an opinion. To allow a young lady, at her time of life, to be present (without a “chaperone”) in a house full of men among whom a medical experiment is being carried on, is an outrage on propriety which Mrs. If the matter is allowed to proceed, she will feel it to be her duty--at a serious sacrifice of her own personal convenience--to accompany Miss Verinder to Yorkshire.

Under these circumstances, she ventures to request that I will kindly reconsider the subject; seeing that Miss Verinder declines to be guided by any opinion but mine. Her presence cannot possibly be necessary; and a word from me, to that effect, would relieve both Mrs. Translated from polite commonplace into plain English, the meaning of this is, as I take it, that Mrs. She has unfortunately appealed to the very last man in existence who has any reason to regard that opinion with respect. I won’t disappoint Miss Verinder; and I won’t delay a reconciliation between two young people who love each other, and who have been parted too long already. Translated from plain English into polite commonplace, this means that Mr.

Jennings presents his compliments to Mrs. We determined not to disturb Betteredge by overlooking him at the house to-day. To-morrow will be time enough for our first visit of inspection. Blake is beginning to feel his continued restlessness at night.

On our way to the house, this morning, he consulted me, with some nervous impatience and irresolution, about a letter (forwarded to him from London) which he had received from Sergeant Cuff. Blake left at his residence near Dorking, and announces his return to England as likely to take place in a week or less. In the meantime, he requests to be favoured with Mr. Blake’s reasons for wishing to speak to him (as stated in the message) on the subject of the Moonstone. Blake can convict him of having made any serious mistake, in the course of his last year’s inquiry concerning the Diamond, he will consider it a duty (after the liberal manner in which he was treated by the late Lady Verinder) to place himself at that gentleman’s disposal.

If not, he begs permission to remain in his retirement, surrounded by the peaceful horticultural attractions of a country life. Blake to inform Sergeant Cuff, in reply, of all that had happened since the inquiry was suspended last year, and to leave him to draw his own conclusions from the plain facts. On second thoughts I also suggested inviting the Sergeant to be present at the experiment, in the event of his returning to England in time to join us. He would be a valuable witness to have, in any case; and, if I proved to be wrong in believing the Diamond to be hidden in Mr. This last consideration appeared to decide Mr. He promised to follow my advice. The sound of the hammer informed us that the work of re-furnishing was in full progress, as we entered the drive that led to the house. The moment he saw me, he pulled out the pocket-book and pencil, and obstinately insisted on taking notes of everything that I said to him. Blake had foretold that the work was advancing as rapidly and as intelligently as it was possible to desire. But there was still much to be done in the inner hall, and in Miss Verinder’s room.

Having congratulated Betteredge on the progress that he had made (he persisted in taking notes every time I opened my lips; declining, at the same time, to pay the slightest attention to anything said by Mr. Blake); and having promised to return for a second visit of inspection in a day or two, we prepared to leave the house, going out by the back way.

Before we were clear of the passages downstairs, I was stopped by Betteredge, just as I was passing the door which led into his own room. “Could I say two words to you in private?” he asked, in a mysterious whisper. Blake walked on to wait for me in the garden, while I accompanied Betteredge into his room. To my great surprise, Betteredge laid his hand confidentially on my arm, and put this extraordinary question to me: “Mr. Jennings, do you happen to be acquainted with ROBINSON CRUSOE?” I answered that I had read ROBINSON CRUSOE when I was a child. “He has not read ROBINSON CRUSOE since he was a child,” said Betteredge, speaking to himself--not to me. “Let’s try how ROBINSON CRUSOE strikes him now!” He unlocked a cupboard in a corner, and produced a dirty and dog’s-eared book, which exhaled a strong odour of stale tobacco as he turned over the leaves. Having found a passage of which he was apparently in search, he requested me to join him in the corner; still mysteriously confidential, and still speaking under his breath. “In respect to this hocus-pocus of yours, sir, with the laudanum and Mr.

If I had yielded to that secret Dictate, I should have put all the furniture away again with my own hand, and have warned the workmen off the premises when they came the next morning.” “I am glad to find, from what I have seen up-stairs,” I said, “that you resisted the secret Dictate.” “Resisted isn’t the word,” answered Betteredge. In that dreadful perturbation of mind and laxity of body, to what remedy did I apply? To the remedy, sir, which has never failed me yet for the last thirty years and more--to This Book!” He hit the book a sounding blow with his open hand, and struck out of it a stronger smell of stale tobacco than ever. This awful bit, sir, page one hundred and seventy-eight, as follows.--‘Upon these, and many like Reflections, I afterwards made it a certain rule with me, That whenever I found those secret Hints or Pressings of my Mind, to doing, or not doing any Thing that presented; or to going this Way, or that Way, I never failed to obey the secret Dictate.’ As I live by bread, Mr. Jennings, in respect to this medical enterprise of yours? “Sir,” he said gravely, “there are great allowances to be made for a man who has not read ROBINSON CRUSOE since he was a child. I wish you good morning.” He opened his door with a low bow, and left me at liberty to find my own way into the garden. Blake returning to the house. you have fallen to the lowest possible place in Betteredge’s estimation.

You will find that he won’t waste another word on you now.” June 21st.--A short entry must suffice in my journal to-day. I have been obliged, greatly against my will, to prescribe for him. Otherwise, I should be inclined to fear that he will be totally unfit for the experiment when the time comes to try it. As for myself, after some little remission of my pains for the last two days I had an attack this morning, of which I shall say nothing but that it has decided me to return to the opium. June 22nd.--Our prospects look better to-day. MY night, thanks to the opium, was the night of a man who is stunned. We drove to the house to see if the refurnishing was done.

It will be completed to-morrow--Saturday.

Blake foretold, Betteredge raised no further obstacles.

From first to last, he was ominously polite, and ominously silent.

To-morrow evening the workmen will be late in the house. On the next day, the established Sunday tyranny which is one of the institutions of this free country, so times the trains as to make it impossible to ask anybody to travel to us from London.

Until Monday comes, there is nothing to be done but to watch Mr. Blake carefully, and to keep him, if possible, in the same state in which I find him to-day. In the meanwhile, I have prevailed on him to write to Mr.

If we convince HIM, we place our victory beyond the possibility of dispute. Blake has also written to Sergeant Cuff; and I have sent a line to Miss Verinder.

Merridew persists in sacrificing herself to the opinion of the world.

June 23rd.--The vengeance of the opium overtook me again last night. Blake is not so well again to-day. His next proceeding, in case of temptation, was to throw the key out of window. The waiter brought it in this morning, discovered at the bottom of an empty cistern--such is Fate! Blake and I took a long drive in an open carriage. To my great relief--for I found him in an over-wrought, over-excited state this morning--he had two hours’ sound sleep on the sofa after dinner. So far as it is possible for me to judge, he promises (physically speaking) to be quite as susceptible to the action of the opium to-night as he was at this time last year.

He is, this afternoon, in a state of nervous sensitiveness which just stops short of nervous irritation. These results have all been produced by deprivation of sleep, which is in its turn the nervous consequence of a sudden cessation in the habit of smoking, after that habit has been carried to an extreme. Blake is amusing himself at the billiard table in the inner hall, practising different strokes in the game, as he was accustomed to practise them when he was a guest in this house in June last. I have brought my journal here, partly with a view to occupying the idle hours which I am sure to have on my hands between this and to-morrow morning; partly in the hope that something may happen which it may be worth my while to place on record at the time. A glance at yesterday’s entry shows me that I have forgotten to note the arrival of the morning’s post. She has arranged to travel by the afternoon train, as I recommended.

Merridew, to emulate the moderation which Betteredge displays in his relations with me. He received us to-day, portentously arrayed in his best black suit, and his stiffest white cravat. It is, he thinks, clearly necessary that a gentleman possessed of the average allowance of common sense, should accompany Miss Verinder to the scene of, what we will venture to call, the proposed exhibition. Bruff himself will be that gentleman.--So here is poor Miss Verinder provided with two “chaperones.” It is a relief to think that the opinion of the world must surely be satisfied with this! We must not expect to see him to-night. Betteredge has just come in, to say that Mr. In this way, I hope to revive the old impressions of places and things as vividly as possible in his mind. We are now going to dine, exactly at the hour at which the birthday dinner was given last year. At a reasonable time after dinner I propose to lead the conversation back again--as inartificially as I can--to the subject of the Diamond, and of the Indian conspiracy to steal it.

When I have filled his mind with these topics, I shall have done all that it is in my power to do, before the time comes for giving him the second dose. * * * * * Half-past eight.--I have only this moment found an opportunity of attending to the most important duty of all; the duty of looking in the family medicine chest, for the laudanum which Mr. Ten minutes since, I caught Betteredge at an unoccupied moment, and told him what I wanted. Without a word of objection, without so much as an attempt to produce his pocket-book, he led the way (making allowances for me at every step) to the store-room in which the medicine chest is kept. I discovered the bottle, carefully guarded by a glass stopper tied over with leather.

Finding the bottle still well filled, I have resolved to use it, in preference to employing either of the two preparations with which I had taken care to provide myself, in case of emergency.

The question of the quantity which I am to administer presents certain difficulties. This is a small dose to have produced the results which followed--even in the case of a person so sensitive as Mr. Candy gave more than he supposed himself to have given--knowing, as I do, that he has a keen relish of the pleasures of the table, and that he measured out the laudanum on the birthday, after dinner. In any case, I shall run the risk of enlarging the dose to forty minims. Blake knows beforehand that he is going to take the laudanum--which is equivalent, physiologically speaking, to his having (unconsciously to himself) a certain capacity in him to resist the effects. If my view is right, a larger quantity is therefore imperatively required, this time, to repeat the results which the smaller quantity produced, last year.

Blake to accompany me to his bedroom; stating, as a reason, that I wished him to look round it, for the last time, in order to make quite sure that nothing had been forgotten in the refurnishing of the room. Bruff should be the next room to Mr.

My personal appearance (as usual) told against me. Being well used to producing this effect on strangers, I did not hesitate a moment in saying what I wanted to say, before the lawyer found his way into Mr. “Miss Verinder has probably told you, that I wish her presence in the house (and Mrs. Merridew’s presence of course) to be kept a secret from Mr. Blake, until my experiment on him has been tried first?” “I know that I am to hold my tongue, sir!” said Mr. “Being habitually silent on the subject of human folly, I am all the readier to keep my lips closed on this occasion. Does that satisfy you?” I bowed, and left Betteredge to show him to his room. Jennings--and the name of him is Bruff.” It was next necessary to get the meeting over with the two ladies. I descended the stairs--a little nervously, I confess--on my way to Miss Verinder’s sitting-room.

She stares, trembles, and curtseys, whenever I speak to her. Before I could answer, she came out eagerly to speak to me in the corridor. At the first sight of me, Miss Verinder stopped, and hesitated.

“Oh, if you only knew how happy your letters have made me!” She looked at my ugly wrinkled face, with a bright gratitude so new to me in my experience of my fellow-creatures, that I was at a loss how to answer her. “Where is he now?” she asked, giving free expression to her one dominant interest--the interest in Mr. When are you going to give him the laudanum? I am so interested; I am so excited--I have ten thousand things to say to you, and they all crowd together so that I don’t know what to say first.

“I venture to think that I thoroughly understand it.” She was far above the paltry affectation of being confused. How can I be ungrateful enough to have any concealment from you?

I love him,” she said simply, “I have loved him from first to last--even when I was wronging him in my own thoughts; even when I was saying the hardest and the cruellest words to him. When to-morrow comes, and he knows that I am in the house, do you think----” She stopped again, and looked at me very earnestly.

“When to-morrow comes,” I said, “I think you have only to tell him what you have just told me.” Her face brightened; she came a step nearer to me. Her fingers trifled nervously with a flower which I had picked in the garden, and which I had put into the button-hole of my coat.

“I am quite certain of what will happen to-morrow. I wish I could feel as certain of what will happen to-night.” At that point in the conversation, we were interrupted by the appearance of Betteredge with the tea-tray. He gave me another significant look as he passed on into the sitting-room. Jennings--the Tartar’s upstairs!” We followed him into the room. I am endeavouring to quiet my mind by occupying myself as usual. Jennings’s medical views, I shall be happy to put it away of course.” I hastened to sanction the presence of the embroidery, exactly as I had sanctioned the absence of the burst buzzard and the Cupid’s wing. Merridew made an effort--a grateful effort--to look at my hair. it was not to be done. Jennings will permit me,” pursued the old lady, “I should like to ask a favour. Jennings is about to try a scientific experiment to-night.

I used to attend scientific experiments when I was a girl at school. Jennings will be so very kind, I should like to be warned of the explosion this time. With a view to getting it over, if possible, before I go to bed.” I attempted to assure Mrs. “I am much obliged to Mr.

I am quite resigned to the explosion--but I DO want to get it over, if possible, before I go to bed.” Here the door opened, and Mrs. Franklin wishes to know where you are. Being under your orders to deceive him, in respect to the presence of my young lady in the house, I have said I don’t know. That you will please to observe, was a lie. Having one foot already in the grave, sir, the fewer lies you expect me to tell, the more I shall be indebted to you, when my conscience pricks me and my time comes.” There was not a moment to be wasted on the purely speculative question of Betteredge’s conscience. Blake might make his appearance in search of me, unless I went to him at once in his own room.

Miss Verinder followed me out into the corridor. “They seem to be in a conspiracy to persecute you,” she said. “What does it mean?” “Only the protest of the world, Miss Verinder--on a very small scale--against anything that is new.” “What are we to do with Mrs. Merridew?” “Tell her the explosion will take place at nine to-morrow morning.” “So as to send her to bed?” “Yes--so as to send her to bed.” Miss Verinder went back to the sitting-room, and I went upstairs to Mr. To my surprise I found him alone; restlessly pacing his room, and a little irritated at being left by himself.

He pointed to the closed door of communication between the two rooms. Bruff had looked in on him, for a moment; had attempted to renew his protest against our proceedings; and had once more failed to produce the smallest impression on Mr. Upon this, the lawyer had taken refuge in a black leather bag, filled to bursting with professional papers. Bruff would be forthcoming when called upon.” With that apology, the lawyer had gone back to his own room, and had immersed himself obstinately in his black bag. “When are you going to give me the laudanum?” asked Mr. Blake, had led me to the conclusion that the dose of laudanum given by Mr. I had accordingly determined not to try the second dose until that time. The conversation soon flagged--then dropped altogether.

THE GUARDIAN; THE TATLER; Richardson’s PAMELA; Mackenzie’s MAN OF FEELING; Roscoe’s LORENZO DE MEDICI; and Robertson’s CHARLES THE FIFTH--all classical works; all (of course) immeasurably superior to anything produced in later times; and all (from my present point of view) possessing the one great merit of enchaining nobody’s interest, and exciting nobody’s brain. Blake to the composing influence of Standard Literature, and occupied myself in making this entry in my journal. With what result, I am now to describe. At eleven o’clock, I rang the bell for Betteredge, and told Mr. Without professing to believe in omens, it was at least encouraging to find no direct nervous influences--no stormy or electric perturbations--in the atmosphere. Betteredge joined me at the window, and mysteriously put a little slip of paper into my hand. Merridew has gone to bed, on the distinct understanding that the explosion is to take place at nine to-morrow morning, and that I am not to stir out of this part of the house until she comes and sets me free. Pray let me see you measure out the laudanum; I want to have something to do with it, even in the unimportant character of a mere looker-on.--R.V.” I followed Betteredge out of the room, and told him to remove the medicine-chest into Miss Verinder’s sitting-room. The order appeared to take him completely by surprise. “Might I presume to ask,” he said, “what my young lady and the medicine-chest have got to do with each other?” “Stay in the sitting-room, and you will see.” Betteredge appeared to doubt his own unaided capacity to superintend me effectually, on an occasion when a medicine-chest was included in the proceedings.

“Is there any objection, sir” he asked, “to taking Mr. Bruff into this part of the business?” “Quite the contrary! I am now going to ask Mr. Bruff to accompany me down-stairs.” Betteredge withdrew to fetch the medicine-chest, without another word. I went back into Mr.

Bruff opened it, with his papers in his hand--immersed in Law; impenetrable to Medicine. “I am sorry to disturb you,” I said. “But I am going to prepare the laudanum for Mr. Blake; and I must request you to be present, and to see what I do.” “Yes?” said Mr. Bruff, with nine-tenths of his attention riveted on his papers, and with one-tenth unwillingly accorded to me. “Anything else?” “I must trouble you to return here with me, and to see me administer the dose.” “Anything else?” “One thing more. I must put you to the inconvenience of remaining in Mr. Blake’s room, and of waiting to see what happens.” “Oh, very good!” said Mr. Jennings, to my importing THAT amount of common sense into the proceedings?” Before I could answer, Mr.

Blake addressed himself to the lawyer, speaking from his bed. “Do you really mean to say that you don’t feel any interest in what we are going to do?” he asked. We found Miss Verinder, pale and agitated, restlessly pacing her sitting-room from end to end. At a table in a corner stood Betteredge, on guard over the medicine-chest. Bruff sat down on the first chair that he could find, and (emulating the usefulness of the cow) plunged back again into his papers on the spot. Miss Verinder drew me aside, and reverted instantly to her one all-absorbing interest--her interest in Mr. How long will it be before anything happens?” “It is not easy to say. One look at her face told me that I could trust her. I addressed myself again to Mr.

“I must trouble you to put your papers aside for a moment,” I said. “Oh, certainly!” He got up with a start--as if I had disturbed him at a particularly interesting place--and followed me to the medicine-chest. There, deprived of the breathless excitement incidental to the practice of his profession, he looked at Betteredge--and yawned wearily.

“I must have a hand in it!” I measured out the forty minims from the bottle, and poured the laudanum into a medicine glass. “Fill it till it is three parts full,” I said, and handed the glass to Miss Verinder. I then directed Betteredge to lock up the medicine chest; informing him that I had done with it now. Bruff was looking back to his papers--and slyly kissed the rim of the medicine glass. “When you give it to him,” said the charming girl, “give it to him on that side!” I took the piece of crystal which was to represent the Diamond from my pocket, and gave it to her.

“You must have a hand in this, too,” I said. “You must put it where you put the Moonstone last year.” She led the way to the Indian cabinet, and put the mock Diamond into the drawer which the real Diamond had occupied on the birthday night. But the strong dramatic interest which the experiment was now assuming, proved (to my great amusement) to be too much for Betteredge’s capacity of self restraint. At the door, I stopped to address a last word to Miss Verinder. Bruff and Betteredge, I went back to Mr. We found him moving restlessly from side to side of the bed, and wondering irritably whether he was to have the laudanum that night. In the presence of the two witnesses, I gave him the dose, and shook up his pillows, and told him to lie down again quietly and wait. His bed, provided with light chintz curtains, was placed, with the head against the wall of the room, so as to leave a good open space on either side of it. Bruff and Betteredge, to wait for the result.

At the bottom of the bed I half drew the curtains--and placed my own chair at a little distance, so that I might let him see me or not see me, speak to me or not speak to me, just as the circumstances might direct. The other candle I gave to Mr. The window was open at the top, so as to ventilate the room. It was twenty minutes past eleven, by my watch, when the preparations were completed, and I took my place on the chair set apart at the bottom of the bed.

But looking towards him now, I saw certain signs and tokens which told me that the Law was beginning to lose its hold on him at last. Franklin Blake; he forgot that I had upset the house from top to bottom; he forgot that I had not read ROBINSON CRUSOE since I was a child. “For the Lord’s sake, sir,” he whispered to me, “tell us when it will begin to work.” “Not before midnight,” I whispered back. “Say nothing, and sit still.” Betteredge dropped to the lowest depth of familiarity with me, without a struggle to save himself. Looking next towards Mr.

Blake, I found him as restless as ever in his bed; fretfully wondering why the influence of the laudanum had not begun to assert itself yet.

To tell him, in his present humour, that the more he fidgeted and wondered, the longer he would delay the result for which we were now waiting, would have been simply useless. The wiser course to take was to dismiss the idea of the opium from his mind, by leading him insensibly to think of something else. With this view, I encouraged him to talk to me; contriving so to direct the conversation, on my side, as to lead it back again to the subject which had engaged us earlier in the evening--the subject of the Diamond. I took care to revert to those portions of the story of the Moonstone, which related to the transport of it from London to Yorkshire; to the risk which Mr. Blake had run in removing it from the bank at Frizinghall: and to the unexpected appearance of the Indians at the house, on the evening of the birthday. And I purposely assumed, in referring to these events, to have misunderstood much of what Mr. Blake himself had told me a few hours since.

In this way, I set him talking on the subject with which it was now vitally important to fill his mind--without allowing him to suspect that I was making him talk for a purpose. Little by little, he became so interested in putting me right that he forgot to fidget in the bed. His mind was far away from the question of the opium, at the all-important time when his eyes first told me that the opium was beginning to lay its hold on his brain. It wanted five minutes to twelve, when the premonitory symptoms of the working of the laudanum first showed themselves to me. But, as the minutes of the new morning wore away, the swiftly-subtle progress of the influence began to show itself more plainly. The sublime intoxication of opium gleamed in his eyes; the dew of a stealthy perspiration began to glisten on his face. He held steadily to the subject of the Diamond; but he ceased to complete his sentences.

A little later, the sentences dropped to single words.

Then, still busy with the subject of the Diamond, he began to talk again--not to me, but to himself. That change told me that the first stage in the experiment was reached. Looking towards them now, I saw the Law (as represented by Mr.

I signed to them to take off their boots quietly, as I was taking off mine. Blake gave us the chance of following him, it was vitally necessary to follow him without noise. “I wish I had never taken it out of the bank,” he said to himself.

The prospect thus suddenly opened before me was too much for my shattered nerves. I was obliged to look away from him--or I should have lost my self-control. When I could trust myself to look back at him he was out of his bed, standing erect at the side of it. The pupils of his eyes were now contracted; his eyeballs gleamed in the light of the candle as he moved his head slowly to and fro. “The Indians may be hidden in the house.” He stopped, and walked slowly to the other end of the room. He turned--waited--came back to the bed. Were we to fail on the very brink of success? “How the devil am I to sleep,” he said, “with THIS on my mind?” He looked at the light, burning on the table at the head of his bed. After a moment, he took the candle in his hand. Bruff and Betteredge, into the farthest corner by the bed.

I signed to them to be silent, as if their lives had depended on it. I signed to my two companions to look through this, so as to keep them from showing themselves. A recess in the wall was at my left hand, in which I could instantly hide myself, if he showed any signs of looking back into the corridor. He advanced to the middle of the room, with the candle still in his hand: he looked about him--but he never looked back. After waiting irresolute, for a minute or more, in the middle of the room, he moved to the corner near the window, where the Indian cabinet stood. He put his candle on the top of the cabinet. He opened, and shut, one drawer after another, until he came to the drawer in which the mock Diamond was put.

He looked into the drawer for a moment. Then he took the mock Diamond out with his right hand. With the other hand, he took the candle from the top of the cabinet.

He walked back a few steps towards the middle of the room, and stood still again. Would he go back now, as I believed he had gone back then, to his bed-chamber? Would he show us what he had done with the Diamond, when he had returned to his own room? His first action, when he moved once more, proved to be an action which he had not performed, when he was under the influence of the opium for the first time. He put the candle down on a table, and wandered on a little towards the farther end of the room. He leaned heavily on the back of it, with his left hand--then roused himself, and returned to the middle of the room.

The suspense of the moment proved too much for Miss Verinder’s self-control. She advanced a few steps--then stopped again. Still, so long as he stood where he was, there was hope. We waited, in unutterable expectation, to see what would happen next. It fell on the floor, before the doorway--plainly visible to him, and to everyone. He made no effort to pick it up: he looked down at it vacantly, and, as he looked, his head sank on his breast. He staggered--roused himself for an instant--walked back unsteadily to the sofa--and sat down on it. He made a last effort; he tried to rise, and sank back. We were free to move and speak.

“The first thing to settle,” I said, “is the question of what we are to do with him.

It is some distance to carry him back to his own room. But my health and strength are not what they were--I am afraid I must ask you to help me.” Before they could answer, Miss Verinder called to me softly. “Do you mean to watch him while he sleeps?” she asked. “Yes, I am not sure enough of the action of the opium in his case to be willing to leave him alone.” She handed me the shawl and the counterpane. I mentioned the suggestion to Mr. “Before we separate,” I began, “I have a word to say about the experiment which has been tried to-night. Two distinct objects were to be gained by it. The first of these objects was to prove, that Mr.

Blake entered this room, and took the Diamond, last year, acting unconsciously and irresponsibly, under the influence of opium. “The second object,” I went on, “was to discover what he did with the Diamond, after he was seen by Miss Verinder to leave her sitting-room with the jewel in his hand, on the birthday night. The gaining of this object depended, of course, on his still continuing exactly to repeat his proceedings of last year.

He has failed to do that; and the purpose of the experiment is defeated accordingly. I told Mr. Blake from the first, that our complete success in this matter depended on our completely reproducing in him the physical and moral conditions of last year--and I warned him that this was the next thing to a downright impossibility.

It is also possible that I may have administered too large a dose of laudanum. But I myself look upon the first reason that I have given, as the true reason why we have to lament a failure, as well as to rejoice over a success.” After saying those words, I put the writing materials before Mr. Bruff, and asked him if he had any objection--before we separated for the night--to draw out, and sign, a plain statement of what he had seen. He at once took the pen, and produced the statement with the fluent readiness of a practised hand. “I owe you this,” he said, signing the paper, “as some atonement for what passed between us earlier in the evening. Jennings,” he said, “when you read ROBINSON CRUSOE again (which I strongly recommend you to do), you will find that he never scruples to acknowledge it, when he turns out to have been in the wrong. Please to consider me, sir, as doing what Robinson Crusoe did, on the present occasion.” With those words he signed the paper in his turn. Bruff took me aside, as we rose from the table. “Your theory is that Franklin Blake hid the Moonstone in his room. My theory is, that the Moonstone is in the possession of Mr.

We will only ask, which of us is in a position to put his theory to the test?” “The test, in my case,” I answered, “has been tried to-night, and has failed.” “The test, in my case,” rejoined Mr. Luker at the bank; and I shall cause that watch to be continued until the last day of the month. I know that he must take the Diamond himself out of his bankers’ hands--and I am acting on the chance that the person who has pledged the Diamond may force him to do this by redeeming the pledge. In that case I may be able to lay my hand on the person.

“I am going back to town by the morning train,” pursued the lawyer. “I may hear, when I return, that a discovery has been made--and it may be of the greatest importance that I should have Franklin Blake at hand to appeal to, if necessary. I intend to tell him, as soon as he wakes, that he must return with me to London.

After all that has happened, may I trust to your influence to back me?” “Certainly!” I said. Betteredge followed him out; I went to the sofa to look at Mr. She came close to me, and took my hand.

Jennings, if you were me, only think how you would long to sit and look at him. Do!” Is it necessary to mention that I gave way? She drew a chair to the foot of the sofa. It lay in her lap--she was not even able to look away from him long enough to thread her needle. In the heaviness of my heart I turned to my Journal for relief, and wrote in it what is written here. So we kept our watch together in silence. Towards six o’clock, I felt the warning which told me that my pains were coming back. I was obliged to leave her alone with him for a little while. In a little while I was able to venture back, and let her see me again. She was just touching his forehead with her lips.

I shook my head as soberly as I could, and pointed to her chair. He is beginning to move for the first time. Shall I leave them together? They have arranged it among themselves; they have all gone to London by the ten o’clock train. I have awakened again to the realities of my friendless and lonely life. I dare not trust myself to write down, the kind words that have been said to me especially by Miss Verinder and Mr. Those words will come back to me in my solitary hours, and will help me through what is left of the end of my life. Blake is to write, and tell me what happens in London.

Miss Verinder is to return to Yorkshire in the autumn (for her marriage, no doubt); and I am to take a holiday, and be a guest in the house.

Back again, this morning, to the old routine! Back again, to-night, to the dreadful alternative between the opium and the pain! FIFTH NARRATIVE The Story Resumed by FRANKLIN BLAKE CHAPTER I But few words are needed, on my part, to complete the narrative that has been presented in the Journal of Ezra Jennings. Of myself, I have only to say that I awoke on the morning of the twenty-sixth, perfectly ignorant of all that I had said and done under the influence of the opium--from the time when the drug first laid its hold on me, to the time when I opened my eyes, in Rachel’s sitting-room. Of what happened after my waking, I do not feel called upon to render an account in detail. Confining myself merely to results, I have to report that Rachel and I thoroughly understood each other, before a single word of explanation had passed on either side. I decline to account, and Rachel declines to account, for the extraordinary rapidity of our reconciliation. Sir and Madam, look back at the time when you were passionately attached to each other--and you will know what happened, after Ezra Jennings had shut the door of the sitting-room, as well as I know it myself. I have, however, no objection to add, that we should have been certainly discovered by Mrs. She heard the sound of the old lady’s dress in the corridor, and instantly ran out to meet her; I heard Mrs.

Merridew instantly permitted herself to be taken by the arm, and led into the garden, out of the way of the impending shock. On her return to the house, she met me in the hall, and expressed herself as greatly struck by the vast improvement in Science, since the time when she was a girl at school.

And no smell afterwards, that I can detect, now we have come back to the house! I must really apologise to your medical friend. It is only due to him to say that he has managed it beautifully!” So, after vanquishing Betteredge and Mr. Bruff made no secret of his reasons for wishing that I should accompany him to London by the morning train. The watch kept at the bank, and the result which might yet come of it, appealed so irresistibly to Rachel’s curiosity, that she at once decided (if Mrs. Merridew had no objection) on accompanying us back to town--so as to be within reach of the earliest news of our proceedings. Merridew proved to be all pliability and indulgence, after the truly considerate manner in which the explosion had conducted itself; and Betteredge was accordingly informed that we were all four to travel back together by the morning train. I fully expected that he would have asked leave to accompany us. He was charged with completing the refurnishing of the house, and was too full of his domestic responsibilities to feel the “detective-fever” as he might have felt it under other circumstances.

Our one subject of regret, in going to London, was the necessity of parting, more abruptly than we could have wished, with Ezra Jennings. It was impossible to persuade him to accompany us. I could only promise to write to him--and Rachel could only insist on his coming to see her when she returned to Yorkshire. After listening to the boy, Mr. Bruff asked the ladies whether they would excuse our accompanying them back to Portland Place. I had barely time to promise Rachel that I would return, and tell her everything that had happened, before Mr. Bruff seized me by the arm, and hurried me into a cab. The boy with the ill-secured eyes took his place on the box by the driver, and the driver was directed to go to Lombard Street. “An hour ago, he was seen to leave his house at Lambeth, in a cab, accompanied by two men, who were recognised by my men as police officers in plain clothes.

Luker’s dread of the Indians is at the bottom of this precaution, the inference is plain enough. He is going to take the Diamond out of the bank.” “And we are going to the bank to see what comes of it?” “Yes--or to hear what has come of it, if it is all over by this time. “I employ him to go on errands--and I only wish my clerks who have nick-named him were as thoroughly to be depended on as he is. Blake, in spite of his eyes.” It was twenty minutes to five when we drew up before the bank in Lombard Street. “Do you want to come in too?” asked Mr.

The outer office--with the long counter, behind which the cashiers sat--was crowded with people; all waiting their turn to take money out, or to pay money in, before the bank closed at five o’clock. “Have you seen him?” “He passed us here half an hour since, sir, and went on into the inner office.” “Has he not come out again yet?” “No, sir.” Mr. Bruff turned to me. Not a sign of them was to be seen anywhere.

“If he passes the Diamond to anybody, he will pass it here.” Without noticing either of us, Mr. Luker slowly made his way to the door--now in the thickest, now in the thinnest part of the crowd. I distinctly saw his hand move, as he passed a short, stout man, respectably dressed in a suit of sober grey. I looked round at the lawyer, and then looked significantly towards the man in the suit of sober grey. Bruff, “I saw it too!” He turned about, in search of his second man. The second man was nowhere to be seen. “They have both left us at the very time when we want them most.” It came to the turn of the man in the grey suit to transact his business at the counter. He paid in a cheque--received a receipt for it--and turned to go out.

“What is to be done?” asked Mr. A nice occupation for a man in my position,” he muttered to himself, as we followed the stranger out of the bank. I should be ruined if it was known.” The man in the grey suit got into an omnibus, going westward. I assert it positively--when he took his seat in the omnibus, he blushed! The man in the grey suit stopped the omnibus, and got out in Oxford Street. He went into a chemist’s shop. Bruff and the proprietor exchanged a few words in private. “It’s greatly to our credit,” he said, as he took my arm, and led me out--“that’s one comfort!” “What is to our credit?” I asked.

He was sent to the bank to pay money to his master’s account--and he knows no more of the Moonstone than the babe unborn.” I asked what was to be done next. “Come back to my office,” said Mr. “What’s your news?” “I am sorry to say, sir,” replied the man, “that I have made a mistake. Luker pass something to an elderly gentleman, in a light-coloured paletot. The elderly gentleman turns out, sir, to be a most respectable master iron-monger in Eastcheap.” “Where is Gooseberry?” asked Mr. “One of two things,” he said to me. What do you say to dining here, on the chance that the boy may come back in an hour or two? Before the cloth was removed, “a person” was announced as wanting to speak to the lawyer. No: only the man who had been employed to follow Mr.

Luker had gone back to his own house, and had there dismissed his guard. Towards dusk, the shutters had been put up, and the doors had been bolted. Having stated these facts, the man waited to know whether there were any further orders. Luker has taken the Moonstone home with him?” I asked. Bruff to go to Hampstead, and for me to return to Rachel in Portland Place. I left my card, in charge of the porter at the chambers, with a line written on it to say that I should be at my lodgings at half past ten, that night. The card was to be given to the boy, if the boy came back. Add to this, that I passed the evening at Portland Place, on the same seat with Rachel, in a room forty feet long, with Mrs.

I will come back to-morrow morning, between nine and ten.” Inquiry proved that a boy, with very extraordinary-looking eyes, had called, and presented my card and message, had waited an hour, had done nothing but fall asleep and wake up again, had written a line for me, and had gone home--after gravely informing the servant that “he was fit for nothing unless he got his night’s rest.” At nine, the next morning, I was ready for my visitor. I started to my feet, and confronted--Sergeant Cuff. Blake, on the chance of your being in town, before I wrote to Yorkshire,” said the Sergeant. He carried a stout oak stick.

His whole aim and object seemed to be to look as if he had lived in the country all his life. When I complimented him on his Metamorphosis, he declined to take it as a joke. HIS breakfast hour was half-past six--and HE went to bed with the cocks and hens! “I only got back from Ireland last night,” said the Sergeant, coming round to the practical object of his visit, in his own impenetrable manner. “Before I went to bed, I read your letter, telling me what has happened since my inquiry after the Diamond was suspended last year.

There’s only one thing to be said about the matter on my side. I completely mistook my case. How any man living was to have seen things in their true light, in such a situation as mine was at the time, I don’t profess to know. It’s only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake.” “You have come in the nick of time to recover your reputation,” I said. I am here, sir, in grateful remembrance of the late Lady Verinder’s liberality to me. I will go back to my old work--if you want me, and if you will trust me--on that consideration, and on no other. Not a farthing of money is to pass, if you please, from you to me. Blake, how the case stands since you wrote to me last.” I told him of the experiment with the opium, and of what had occurred afterwards at the bank in Lombard Street. And he was particularly interested in the theory of Ezra Jennings, relating to what I had done with the Diamond, after I had left Rachel’s sitting-room, on the birthday night.

Jennings that you hid the Moonstone,” said Sergeant Cuff. “But I agree with him, that you must certainly have taken it back to your own room.” “Well?” I asked. Bruff no suspicion?” “No more than I have.” Sergeant Cuff rose, and went to my writing-table. It was marked “Private;” it was addressed to me; and it had the Sergeant’s signature in the corner. Wait to open the envelope, Mr. And then compare the name of the guilty person, with the name that I have written in that sealed letter.” I put the letter into my pocket--and then asked for the Sergeant’s opinion of the measures which we had taken at the bank. “Very well intended, sir,” he answered, “and quite the right thing to do.

But there was another person who ought to have been looked after besides Mr. Luker.” “The person named in the letter you have just given to me?” “Yes, Mr. I shall have something to propose to you and Mr. Let’s wait, first, and see if the boy has anything to tell us that is worth hearing.” It was close on ten o’clock, and the boy had not made his appearance. In a minute more, he would no doubt have got from this, to the subject of his favourite roses, if my servant had not interrupted us by announcing that the boy was below. On being brought into the room, Gooseberry stopped at the threshold of the door, and looked distrustfully at the stranger who was in my company. I told the boy to come to me.

“He is here to assist me; and he knows all that has happened. “Come here, my lad,” said the Sergeant, “and let’s hear what you have got to tell us.” The notice of the great man--the hero of many a famous story in every lawyer’s office in London--appeared to fascinate the boy. Bruff and I thought he was a spy employed by the Indians.” Sergeant Cuff did not appear to be much impressed by what Mr. Bruff wanted to know whether Mr. Luker passed anything to anybody on his way out of the bank. Luker pass something to the sailor with the black beard.” “Why didn’t you tell Mr. Bruff what you saw?” “I hadn’t time to tell anybody, sir, the sailor went out in such a hurry.” “And you ran out after him--eh?” “Yes, sir.” “Gooseberry,” said the Sergeant, patting his head, “you have got something in that small skull of yours--and it isn’t cotton-wool. and what did the sailor do, when he got into the street?” “He called a cab, sir.” “And what did you do?” “Held on behind, and run after it.” Before the Sergeant could put his next question, another visitor was announced--the head clerk from Mr. The agitation and excitement of the last two days had proved too much for Mr.

He had awoke that morning with an attack of gout; he was confined to his room at Hampstead; and, in the present critical condition of our affairs, he was very uneasy at being compelled to leave me without the advice and assistance of an experienced person. The chief clerk had received orders to hold himself at my disposal, and was willing to do his best to replace Mr. I wrote at once to quiet the old gentleman’s mind, by telling him of Sergeant Cuff’s visit: adding that Gooseberry was at that moment under examination; and promising to inform Mr.

Having despatched the clerk to Hampstead with my note, I returned to the room which I had left, and found Sergeant Cuff at the fireplace, in the act of ringing the bell. “I was just going to send word by your servant that I wanted to speak to you. There isn’t a doubt on my mind that this boy--this most meritorious boy,” added the Sergeant, patting Gooseberry on the head, “has followed the right man. The only thing to do, now, is to send for a cab immediately.” In five minutes more, Sergeant Cuff and I (with Gooseberry on the box to guide the driver) were on our way eastward, towards the City. Blake, of what he told me while you were out of the room. You were present, I think, when he mentioned that he held on behind the cab, and ran after it?” “Yes.” “Well, sir, the cab went from Lombard Street to the Tower Wharf. The sailor with the black beard got out, and spoke to the steward of the Rotterdam steamboat, which was to start next morning. He asked if he could be allowed to go on board at once, and sleep in his berth over-night. The cabins, and berths, and bedding were all to have a thorough cleaning that evening, and no passenger could be allowed to come on board, before the morning. When he got into the street again, the boy noticed for the first time, a man dressed like a respectable mechanic, walking on the opposite side of the road, and apparently keeping the sailor in view.

The sailor stopped at an eating-house in the neighbourhood, and went in. The boy--not being able to make up his mind, at the moment--hung about among some other boys, staring at the good things in the eating-house window. After a minute, a cab came by slowly, and stopped where the mechanic was standing. The boy could only see plainly one person in the cab, who leaned forward at the window to speak to the mechanic.

The mechanic crossed the road, and went into the eating-house. The boy waited outside till he was hungry and tired--and then went into the eating-house, in his turn.

He looked about him suspiciously when he got out into the street.

The sailor went on, till he got to Shore Lane, leading into Lower Thames Street. There he stopped before a public-house, under the sign of ‘The Wheel of Fortune,’ and, after examining the place outside, went in.

Gooseberry went in too. He saw it; and confined himself more strictly to Gooseberry’s evidence when he went on. The landlord said ‘No; they were full.’ The barmaid corrected him, and said ‘Number Ten was empty.’ A waiter was sent for to show the sailor to Number Ten. The sailor was taken off to his room.

Not knowing what to do next, Gooseberry had the wisdom to wait and see if anything happened. The mechanic suddenly made his appearance again, collared by the landlord, and exhibiting, to Gooseberry’s great surprise, all the signs and tokens of being drunk. Gooseberry was so struck by this sudden intoxication of a previously sober person, that he couldn’t resist running out after the mechanic into the street.

The moment he turned the corner of the street, he recovered his balance instantly, and became as sober a member of society as you could wish to see.

Gooseberry went back to ‘The Wheel of Fortune’ in a very bewildered state of mind. Nothing happened; and nothing more was to be heard, or seen, of the sailor. Gooseberry decided on going back to the office. Just as he came to this conclusion, who should appear, on the opposite side of the street as usual, but the mechanic again! He looked up at one particular window at the top of the public-house, which was the only one that had a light in it. The light seemed to relieve his mind. The boy made his way back to Gray’s Inn--got your card and message--called--and failed to find you.

Judging by what the boy saw, the Indians are in it, to begin with.” “Yes. And the sailor is evidently the person to whom Mr. But I am as much puzzled to account for his sudden assumption of drunkenness as Gooseberry himself.” “I think I can give a guess at what it means, sir,” said the Sergeant. They were far too noticeable themselves to risk being seen at the bank, or in the public-house--they were obliged to trust everything to their deputy. Their deputy hears a certain number named in the public-house, as the number of the room which the sailor is to have for the night--that being also the room (unless our notion is all wrong) which the Diamond is to have for the night, too. What was the man to do, with such orders as these?

He ran up-stairs to get a look at the room, before the sailor was taken into it. After he was turned out of the public-house, he probably went with his report to the place where his employers were waiting for him. And his employers, no doubt, sent him back to make sure that the sailor was really settled at the public-house till the next morning. As for what happened at ‘The Wheel of Fortune,’ after the boy left--we ought to have discovered that last night.

We must hope for the best, and find out what we can.” In a quarter of an hour more, the cab stopped in Shore Lane, and Gooseberry opened the door for us to get out. The moment we entered “The Wheel of Fortune” it was plain even to my inexperienced eyes that there was something wrong in the house. One or two customers, waiting for their morning drink, were tapping impatiently on the counter with their money. She answered Sergeant Cuff’s inquiry for the landlord, by telling him sharply that her master was up-stairs, and was not to be bothered by anybody. “Come along with me, sir,” said Sergeant Cuff, coolly leading the way up-stairs, and beckoning to the boy to follow him. The barmaid called to her master, and warned him that strangers were intruding themselves into the house. On the first floor we were encountered by the Landlord, hurrying down, in a highly irritated state, to see what was the matter.

“I’ll tell you who I am to begin with. A man in my way of business has a deal to upset his temper, Sergeant Cuff.” “Not a doubt of it,” said the Sergeant. “I’ll come at once, if you will allow me, to what brings us here.

This gentleman and I want to trouble you with a few inquiries, on a matter of some interest to both of us.” “Relating to what, sir?” asked the landlord. “Relating to a dark man, dressed like a sailor, who slept here last night.” “Good God! “That’s the one thing that nobody has been able to do since seven o’clock this morning. That was the time when he left word, last night, that he was to be called.

He WAS called--and there was no getting an answer from him, and no opening his door to see what was the matter. There was the door still locked--and not a sound to be heard in the room! I have hammered at the door myself--and all to no purpose. The potboy has gone to fetch a carpenter. “But there’s a trap-door in the ceiling, leading out on to the roof--and a little lower down the street, there’s an empty house under repair. He would be used to climbing, and his head wouldn’t fail him on the roofs of the houses.” As he spoke, the arrival of the carpenter was announced.

We all went up-stairs, at once, to the top story. It also struck me as odd that he told the boy (after having previously encouraged him to follow us), to wait in the room below till we came down again. By pushing at the door, we thrust this obstacle aside, and so got admission to the room. We all looked towards the bed, and all started.

“What does that mean?” said the landlord, pointing to the pillow. Sergeant Cuff led the way to the bed, without answering, and removed the pillow. I turned away, and went to the open window.

“Send for the nearest doctor, and send for the police.” The waiter was despatched on both errands. Some strange fascination seemed to hold Sergeant Cuff to the bed. Some strange curiosity seemed to keep the rest of them waiting, to see what the Sergeant would do next. I turned again to the window.

The moment afterwards, I felt a soft pull at my coat-tails, and a small voice whispered, “Look here, sir!” Gooseberry had followed us into the room. “Look here, sir,” he repeated--and led me to a table in the corner of the room. On the table stood a little wooden box, open, and empty. On one side of the box lay some jewellers’ cotton. On the other side, was a torn sheet of white paper, with a seal on it, partly destroyed, and with an inscription in writing, which was still perfectly legible. The box, when claimed, to be only given up by Messrs. The sailor had been in possession of the Moonstone, when he had left the bank on the previous day. “Robbery!” whispered the boy, pointing, in high delight, to the empty box. “You were told to wait down-stairs,” I said.

“Go away!” “And Murder!” added Gooseberry, pointing, with a keener relish still, to the man on the bed. There was something so hideous in the boy’s enjoyment of the horror of the scene, that I took him by the two shoulders and put him out of the room. He met me, as I returned into the room, and forced me to go back with him to the bedside. My nerves were not strong enough to bear it. There was a pause--and then a cry of astonishment among the people round the bed. The landlord went to the wash-hand-stand, and returned to the bed with a basin of water and a towel.

He’s washing off his complexion now!” The Sergeant suddenly burst his way through the people about him, and came, with horror in his face, straight to the place where I was standing.

“Come back to the bed, sir!” he began. To Franklin Blake, Esq. Sir,--I beg to apologise for the delay that has occurred in the production of the Report, with which I engaged to furnish you. I have waited to make it a complete Report; and I have been met, here and there, by obstacles which it was only possible to remove by some little expenditure of patience and time. The object which I proposed to myself has now, I hope, been attained. You will find, in these pages, answers to the greater part--if not all--of the questions, concerning the late Mr.

Godfrey Ablewhite, which occurred to your mind when I last had the honour of seeing you. I propose to tell you--in the first place--what is known of the manner in which your cousin met his death; appending to the statement such inferences and conclusions as we are justified (according to my opinion) in drawing from the facts. I shall then endeavour--in the second place--to put you in possession of such discoveries as I have made, respecting the proceedings of Mr. II As to your cousin’s death, then, first.

It appears to be established, beyond any reasonable doubt, that he was killed (while he was asleep, or immediately on his waking) by being smothered with a pillow from his bed--that the persons guilty of murdering him are the three Indians--and that the object contemplated (and achieved) by the crime, was to obtain possession of the diamond, called the Moonstone. The medical man who examined him, being informed of this circumstance, considered the post-mortem appearances as being perfectly compatible with murder by smothering--that is to say, with murder committed by some person, or persons, pressing the pillow over the nose and mouth of the deceased, until death resulted from congestion of the lungs. Next, as to the motive for the crime. A small box, with a sealed paper torn off from it (the paper containing an inscription) was found open, and empty, on a table in the room. He has declared that the box did actually contain the diamond, called the Moonstone; and he has admitted having given the box (thus sealed up) to Mr. The fair inference from all this is, that the stealing of the Moonstone was the motive of the crime. Next, as to the manner in which the crime was committed. On examination of the room (which is only seven feet high), a trap-door in the ceiling, leading out on to the roof of the house, was discovered open. The short ladder, used for obtaining access to the trap-door (and kept under the bed), was found placed at the opening, so as to enable any person or persons, in the room, to leave it again easily.

In this way, any person from the outside could have drawn back the bolt, and opened the door, and have dropped (or have been noiselessly lowered by an accomplice) into the room--its height, as already observed, being only seven feet. As to the manner in which he (or they) obtained access to the roof of the tavern, it is to be remarked that the third house, lower down in the street, was empty, and under repair--that a long ladder was left by the workmen, leading from the pavement to the top of the house--and that, on returning to their work, on the morning of the 27th, the men found the plank which they had tied to the ladder, to prevent anyone from using it in their absence, removed, and lying on the ground. As to the possibility of ascending by this ladder, passing over the roofs of the houses, passing back, and descending again, unobserved--it is discovered, on the evidence of the night policeman, that he only passes through Shore Lane twice in an hour, when out on his beat. Here again, therefore, it seems fair to infer that--with ordinary caution, and presence of mind--any man, or men, might have ascended by the ladder, and might have descended again, unobserved. Lastly, as to the person, or persons, by whom the crime was committed. (2) It is at least probable that the man looking like an Indian, whom Octavius Guy saw at the window of the cab, speaking to the man dressed like a mechanic, was one of the three Hindoo conspirators. Ablewhite was shown into it) under circumstances which lead to the suspicion that he was examining the room. (4) A morsel of torn gold thread was picked up in the bedroom, which persons expert in such matters, declare to be of Indian manufacture, and to be a species of gold thread not known in England. (5) On the morning of the 27th, three men, answering to the description of the three Indians, were observed in Lower Thames Street, were traced to the Tower Wharf, and were seen to leave London by the steamer bound for Rotterdam. Whether the man personating a mechanic was, or was not, an accomplice in the crime, it is impossible to say.

The whole evidence points to the inference that more than one man was concerned in this crime--and the circumstances, I repeat, morally justify the conclusion that the Indians committed it. I have only to add, that the verdict at the Coroner’s Inquest was Wilful Murder against some person, or persons, unknown. Ablewhite’s family have offered a reward, and no effort has been left untried to discover the guilty persons. As to the prospect of ultimately capturing these last, I shall have a word to say to you on that head, when I reach the end of the present Report. Godfrey Ablewhite’s death, I may pass next to the narrative of his proceedings before, during, and after the time, when you and he met at the late Lady Verinder’s house. III With regard to the subject now in hand, I may state, at the outset, that Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite’s life had two sides to it. The side turned up to the public view, presented the spectacle of a gentleman, possessed of considerable reputation as a speaker at charitable meetings, and endowed with administrative abilities, which he placed at the disposal of various Benevolent Societies, mostly of the female sort. The side kept hidden from the general notice, exhibited this same gentleman in the totally different character of a man of pleasure, with a villa in the suburbs which was not taken in his own name, and with a lady in the villa, who was not taken in his own name, either.

My investigations in the villa have shown me several fine pictures and statues; furniture tastefully selected, and admirably made; and a conservatory of the rarest flowers, the match of which it would not be easy to find in all London. My investigation of the lady has resulted in the discovery of jewels which are worthy to take rank with the flowers, and of carriages and horses which have (deservedly) produced a sensation in the Park, among persons well qualified to judge of the build of the one, and the breed of the others. The villa and the lady are such familiar objects in London life, that I ought to apologise for introducing them to notice. The pictures, the statues, the flowers, the jewels, the carriages, and the horses--inquiry proved, to my indescribable astonishment, that not a sixpence of debt was owing on any of them. As to the villa, it had been bought, out and out, and settled on the lady. I might have tried to find the right reading of this riddle, and tried in vain--but for Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite’s death, which caused an inquiry to be made into the state of his affairs. That the Trust was to lapse, and that the young gentleman was to receive the twenty thousand pounds on the day when he came of age, in the month of February, eighteen hundred and fifty.

That, pending the arrival of this period, an income of six hundred pounds was to be paid to him by his two Trustees, half-yearly--at Christmas and Midsummer Day. That the twenty thousand pounds (from which the income was supposed to be derived) had every farthing of it been sold out of the Funds, at different periods, ending with the end of the year eighteen hundred and forty-seven. That the power of attorney, authorising the bankers to sell out the stock, and the various written orders telling them what amounts to sell out, were formally signed by both the Trustees. We may now advance to the date of Miss Verinder’s birthday (in the year eighteen hundred and forty-eight)--the twenty-first of June. Mark the sum; and remember at the same time, that the half-yearly payment to the young gentleman was due on the twenty-fourth of the month. Ablewhite, senior, refused to lend his son a farthing.

Godfrey Ablewhite rode over, with you, to Lady Verinder’s house. Godfrey (as you yourself have told me) made a proposal of marriage to Miss Verinder. Here, he saw his way no doubt--if accepted--to the end of all his money anxieties, present and future. He had three hundred pounds to find on the twenty-fourth of the month, and twenty thousand pounds to find in February eighteen hundred and fifty. Failing to raise these sums, at these times, he was a ruined man. Candy, the doctor, on the sore subject of his profession; and he plays you a practical joke, in return, with a dose of laudanum.

He trusts the administration of the dose, prepared in a little phial, to Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite--who has himself confessed the share he had in the matter, under circumstances which shall presently be related to you. Godfrey is all the readier to enter into the conspiracy, having himself suffered from your sharp tongue in the course of the evening. He joins Betteredge in persuading you to drink a little brandy and water before you go to bed. He privately drops the dose of laudanum into your cold grog. Let us now shift the scene, if you please to Mr.

And allow me to remark, by way of preface, that Mr. Bruff and I, together, have found a means of forcing the money-lender to make a clean breast of it. We have carefully sifted the statement he has addressed to us; and here it is at your service. Godfrey produced the Moonstone. No such Diamond (according to Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite had two modest proposals to make, in relation to this magnificent gem. Luker be so good as to buy it? Luker (in default of seeing his way to the purchase) undertake to sell it on commission, and to pay a sum down, on the anticipated result? HIS estimate (allowing for the flaw in the stone) was thirty thousand pounds.

Godfrey Ablewhite began a story. Godfrey Ablewhite began another story. He got up, and rang the bell for the servant to show the gentleman out. Godfrey made an effort, and came out with a new and amended version of the affair, to the following effect. After privately slipping the laudanum into your brandy and water, he wished you good night, and went into his own room.

It was the next room to yours; and the two had a door of communication between them. Just as he was preparing to get into bed, he heard you, talking to yourself, in your own room, and going to the door of communication, found that he had not shut it as he supposed. He looked into your room to see what was the matter. He heard you say to yourself, in a voice quite unlike your own voice, “How do I know? The Indians may be hidden in the house.” Up to that time, he had simply supposed himself (in giving you the laudanum) to be helping to make you the victim of a harmless practical joke. It now occurred to him, that the laudanum had taken some effect on you, which had not been foreseen by the doctor, any more than by himself. In the fear of an accident happening he followed you softly to see what you would do. He followed you to Miss Verinder’s sitting-room, and saw you go in. He looked through the crevice thus produced, between the door and the post, before he ventured into the room himself.

His own eyes satisfied him that SHE saw you take the Diamond, too. Godfrey took advantage of this hesitation to get back again to his bedroom before you came out, and discovered him. He had barely got back, before you got back too. At any rate, you called to him in a strange, drowsy voice. He came back to you. You put the Diamond into his hand. You said to him, “Take it back, Godfrey, to your father’s bank. You said, “I can’t take it back to the bank. Godfrey Ablewhite went back, with the Diamond, into his own room. His statement is, that he came to no conclusion, at that time--except that he would wait, and see what happened in the morning.

At the same time, Miss Verinder’s language and conduct showed that she was resolved to say nothing (in mercy to you) on her side. Godfrey Ablewhite chose to keep the Diamond, he might do so with perfect impunity. The Moonstone stood between him and ruin. He put the Moonstone into his pocket. V This was the story told by your cousin (under pressure of necessity) to Mr.

Luker believed the story to be, as to all main essentials, true--on this ground, that Mr.

Godfrey Ablewhite was too great a fool to have invented it. Luker, in considering this test of the truth of the story to be a perfectly reliable one. Luker would do in the matter of the Moonstone.

He proposed the following terms, as the only terms on which he would consent to mix himself up with, what was (even in HIS line of business) a doubtful and dangerous transaction. Luker would consent to lend Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite the sum of two thousand pounds, on condition that the Moonstone was to be deposited with him as a pledge. Godfrey Ablewhite paid three thousand pounds to Mr. Luker, he was to receive back the Diamond, as a pledge redeemed. If he failed to produce the money at the expiration of the year, the pledge (otherwise the Moonstone) was to be considered as forfeited to Mr. Godfrey a present of certain promissory notes of his (relating to former dealings) which were then in the money-lender’s possession. It is needless to say, that Mr.

Godfrey indignantly refused to listen to these monstrous terms. Your cousin went to the door, and came back again.

How was he to be sure that the conversation of that evening would be kept strictly secret between his friend and himself? Luker didn’t profess to know how. If awkward inquiries were made, how could he be expected to compromise himself, for the sake of a man who had declined to deal with him? The day of the month, recorded on a neat little card in a box on the money-lender’s chimney-piece, happened to attract his eye. On the twenty-fourth he had three hundred pounds to pay to the young gentleman for whom he was trustee, and no chance of raising the money, except the chance that Mr. Luker had offered to him. But for this miserable obstacle, he might have taken the Diamond to Amsterdam, and have made a marketable commodity of it, by having it cut up into separate stones. As matters stood, he had no choice but to accept Mr. After all, he had a year at his disposal, in which to raise the three thousand pounds--and a year is a long time. How the Moonstone was trusted to the keeping of Mr Luker’s bankers, and how the Indians treated Mr.

The next event in your cousin’s life refers again to Miss Verinder. He proposed marriage to her for the second time--and (after having being accepted) he consented, at her request, to consider the marriage as broken off. But you will say, he might have saved the three thousand pounds, to redeem the pledged Diamond, if he had married.

He might have done so certainly--supposing neither his wife, nor her guardians and trustees, objected to his anticipating more than half of the income at his disposal, for some unknown purpose, in the first year of his marriage. Blake, of the sort that are not to be trifled with--the sort with the light complexion and the Roman nose. Otherwise, it would be contempt with a tongue to it. You also know of the legacy of five thousand pounds, left to him shortly afterwards, by one of those many admirers among the soft sex whose good graces this fascinating man had contrived to win. That legacy (as the event has proved) led him to his death.

I have ascertained that when he went abroad, on getting his five thousand pounds, he went to Amsterdam. There he made all the necessary arrangements for having the Diamond cut into separate stones. He came back (in disguise), and redeemed the Moonstone, on the appointed day. A few days were allowed to elapse (as a precaution agreed to by both parties) before the jewel was actually taken out of the bank. If he had got safe with it to Amsterdam, there would have been just time between July ‘forty-nine, and February ‘fifty (when the young gentleman came of age) to cut the Diamond, and to make a marketable commodity (polished or unpolished) of the separate stones. Judge from this, what motives he had to run the risk which he actually ran.

I have only to remind you, before closing this Report, that there is a chance of laying hands on the Indians, and of recovering the Moonstone yet. They are now (there is every reason to believe) on their passage to Bombay, in an East Indiaman. The ship (barring accidents) will touch at no other port on her way out; and the authorities at Bombay (already communicated with by letter, overland) will be prepared to board the vessel, the moment she enters the harbour. I have the honour to remain, dear sir, your obedient servant, RICHARD CUFF (late sergeant in the Detective Force, Scotland Yard, London).* * NOTE.--Wherever the Report touches on the events of the birthday, or of the three days that followed it, compare with Betteredge’s Narrative, chapters viii. to xiii.

Franklin Blake, you will anticipate the sad news I have to tell you, on finding your letter to Ezra Jennings returned to you, unopened, in this enclosure. I am not to blame for having failed to warn you that his end was at hand. He expressly forbade me to write to you. “I am indebted to Mr. Candy--don’t distress him.” His sufferings, up to the last six hours of his life, were terrible to see. In the intervals of remission, when his mind was clear, I entreated him to tell me of any relatives of his to whom I might write. He asked to be forgiven for refusing anything to me. He maintained that resolution to the last. His story is a blank.

The day before he died, he told me where to find all his papers.

I brought them to him on his bed. He opened the volume for this year, and tore out, one by one, the pages relating to the time when you and he were together. “Give those,” he said, “to Mr. In years to come, he may feel an interest in looking back at what is written there.” Then he clasped his hands, and prayed God fervently to bless you, and those dear to you. He said he should like to see you again. “No,” he answered when I offered to write. I won’t distress him!” At his request I next collected the other papers--that is to say, the bundle of letters, the unfinished book and the volumes of the Diary--and enclosed them all in one wrapper, sealed with my own seal. “Promise,” he said, “that you will put this into my coffin with your own hand; and that you will see that no other hand touches it afterwards.” I gave him my promise. He asked me to do one other thing for him--which it cost me a hard struggle to comply with.

Give me your word of honour that you will allow no monument of any sort--not even the commonest tombstone--to mark the place of my burial. Let me rest, unknown.” When I tried to plead with him to alter his resolution, he became for the first, and only time, violently agitated.

I could not bear to see it; and I gave way. In time, the tombstones will rise round it. As I have told you, for six hours before his death his sufferings ceased. A few minutes before the end he asked me to lift him on his pillow, to see the sun rise through the window. The sunlight touched his face.

It is reported here, that you and Miss Verinder are to be married next month. Please to accept my best congratulations. I was afraid to trust them to the post. EIGHTH NARRATIVE Contributed by GABRIEL BETTEREDGE I am the person (as you remember no doubt) who led the way in these pages, and opened the story. I am also the person who is left behind, as it were, to close the story up. Let nobody suppose that I have any last words to say here concerning the Indian Diamond. I hold that unlucky jewel in abhorrence--and I refer you to other authority than mine, for such news of the Moonstone as you may, at the present time, be expected to receive.

My purpose, in this place, is to state a fact in the history of the family, which has been passed over by everybody, and which I won’t allow to be disrespectfully smothered up in that way. The fact to which I allude is--the marriage of Miss Rachel and Mr. This interesting event took place at our house in Yorkshire, on Tuesday, October ninth, eighteen hundred and forty-nine. And the married couple went to spend the honeymoon in Scotland. Family festivals having been rare enough at our house, since my poor mistress’s death, I own--on this occasion of the wedding--to having (towards the latter part of the day) taken a drop too much on the strength of it. why does he tell us this?” The reason why is now to come. you have got your favourite vice, too; only your vice isn’t mine, and mine isn’t yours), I next applied the one infallible remedy--that remedy being, as you know, ROBINSON CRUSOE.

Where the lines of print at last left off running into each other, I know, however, perfectly well. Franklin’s case, too!)--“and my Wife then”--What Robinson Crusoe’s wife did, or did not do, “then,” I felt no desire to discover. I scored the bit about the Child with my pencil, and put a morsel of paper for a mark to keep the place; “Lie you there,” I said, “till the marriage of Mr. Franklin came into my room, in high good spirits, and said, “Betteredge! Something is going to happen in the house, before we are many months older.” “Does it concern the family, sir?” I asked.

“Has your good lady anything to do with it, if you please, sir?” “She has a great deal to do with it,” says Mr. Franklin, beginning to look a little surprised. I’m heartily glad to hear it.” Mr.

“May I venture to inquire where you got your information?” he asked.

“NOW, sir, do you believe in ROBINSON CRUSOE?” I asked, with a solemnity, suitable to the occasion. With the relation of this extraordinary circumstance, my reappearance in these pages comes to an end. You are welcome to be as merry as you please over everything else I have written.

But when I write of ROBINSON CRUSOE, by the Lord it’s serious--and I request you to take it accordingly! Ladies and gentlemen, I make my bow, and shut up the story.

EPILOGUE THE FINDING OF THE DIAMOND I The Statement of SERGEANT CUFF’S MAN (1849) On the twenty-seventh of June last, I received instructions from Sergeant Cuff to follow three men; suspected of murder, and described as Indians. They had been seen on the Tower Wharf that morning, embarking on board the steamer bound for Rotterdam. I left London by a steamer belonging to another company, which sailed on the morning of Thursday the twenty-eighth. On being informed that the steamer was bound to Rotterdam, the spokesman of the party expressed the greatest surprise and distress at the mistake which he and his two friends had made. They were all willing (he said) to sacrifice their passage money, if the commander of the steamer would only put them ashore. This proceeding of the Indians having been plainly resolved on beforehand, as a means of preventing their being traced, I lost no time in returning to England. I left the steamer at Gravesend, and discovered that the Indians had gone from that place to London. Inquiries made at Plymouth proved that they had sailed, forty-eight hours previously, in the BEWLEY CASTLE, East Indiaman, bound direct to Bombay. On receiving this intelligence, Sergeant Cuff caused the authorities at Bombay to be communicated with, overland--so that the vessel might be boarded by the police immediately on her entering the port.

This step having been taken, my connection with the matter came to an end. II The Statement of THE CAPTAIN (1849) I am requested by Sergeant Cuff to set in writing certain facts, concerning three men (believed to be Hindoos) who were passengers, last summer, in the ship BEWLEY CASTLE, bound for Bombay direct, under my command. In the latter part of the voyage, we had the misfortune to be becalmed for three days and nights, off the coast of India. I have not got the ship’s journal to refer to, and I cannot now call to mind the latitude and longitude. As to our position, therefore, I am only able to state generally that the currents drifted us in towards the land, and that when the wind found us again, we reached our port in twenty-four hours afterwards. Certain gentlemen among the passengers got some of the smaller boats lowered, and amused themselves by rowing about, and swimming, when the sun at evening time was cool enough to let them divert themselves in that way. The boats when done with ought to have been slung up again in their places. Instead of this they were left moored to the ship’s side. What with the heat, and what with the vexation of the weather, neither officers nor men seemed to be in heart for their duty while the calm lasted. When the morning came, the smallest of the boats was missing--and the three Hindoos were next reported to be missing, too.

If these men had stolen the boat shortly after dark (which I have no doubt they did), we were near enough to the land to make it vain to send in pursuit of them, when the discovery was made in the morning. I could only make the same statement to the authorities which I have made here. They considered me to blame for allowing the discipline of the vessel to be relaxed. I have expressed my regret on this score to them, and to my owners. Since that time, nothing has been heard to my knowledge of the three Hindoos. I have no more to add to what is here written. MURTHWAITE (1850) (In a letter to MR. Permit me to remind you that the person’s name was Murthwaite, and that you and he had a long conversation together after dinner.

The talk related to an Indian Diamond, called the Moonstone, and to a conspiracy then in existence to get possession of the gem. Thence I have drifted back to the scene of some of my past adventures in the north and north-west of India. About a fortnight since, I found myself in a certain district or province (but little known to Europeans) called Kattiawar. In the wild regions of Kattiawar (and how wild they are, you will understand, when I tell you that even the husbandmen plough the land, armed to the teeth), the population is fanatically devoted to the old Hindoo religion--to the ancient worship of Bramah and Vishnu.

The few Mahometan families, thinly scattered about the villages in the interior, are afraid to taste meat of any kind. A Mahometan even suspected of killing that sacred animal, the cow, is, as a matter of course, put to death without mercy in these parts by the pious Hindoo neighbours who surround him. To strengthen the religious enthusiasm of the people, two of the most famous shrines of Hindoo pilgrimage are contained within the boundaries of Kattiawar. Finding myself, for the second time, in these romantic regions, I resolved not to leave Kattiawar, without looking once more on the magnificent desolation of Somnauth. At the place where I planned to do this, I was (as nearly as I could calculate it) some three days distant, journeying on foot, from the sacred city. I had not been long on the road, before I noticed that other people--by twos and threes--appeared to be travelling in the same direction as myself.

To such of these as spoke to me, I gave myself out as a Hindoo-Boodhist, from a distant province, bound on a pilgrimage. It is needless to say that my dress was of the sort to carry out this description. Add, that I know the language as well as I know my own, and that I am lean enough and brown enough to make it no easy matter to detect my European origin--and you will understand that I passed muster with the people readily: not as one of themselves, but as a stranger from a distant part of their own country. On the second day, the number of Hindoos travelling in my direction had increased to fifties and hundreds. On the third day, the throng had swollen to thousands; all slowly converging to one point--the city of Somnauth. A trifling service which I was able to render to one of my fellow-pilgrims, during the third day’s journey, proved the means of introducing me to certain Hindoos of the higher caste.

From these men I learnt that the multitude was on its way to a great religious ceremony, which was to take place on a hill at a little distance from Somnauth. The ceremony was in honour of the god of the Moon; and it was to be held at night. The crowd detained us as we drew near to the place of celebration. My Hindoo friends possessed some special privileges which enabled them to gain access to the shrine. They kindly allowed me to accompany them. Below this, I stood, in company with my Hindoo friends. The lower slopes of the eminence melted imperceptibly into a grassy plain, the place of the meeting of three rivers. People this lovely scene with tens of thousands of human creatures, all dressed in white, stretching down the sides of the hill, overflowing into the plain, and fringing the nearer banks of the winding rivers. Light this halt of the pilgrims by the wild red flames of cressets and torches, streaming up at intervals from every part of the innumerable throng.

A strain of plaintive music, played on stringed instruments, and flutes, recalled my attention to the hidden shrine. In the central figure of the three I recognised the man to whom I had spoken in England, when the Indians appeared on the terrace at Lady Verinder’s house. One of the spectators, near whom I was standing, saw me start. In a whisper, he explained to me the apparition of the three figures on the platform of rock. On that night, the three men were to part.

In three separate directions, they were to set forth as pilgrims to the shrines of India. Never more were they to look on each other’s faces. Never more were they to rest on their wanderings, from the day which witnessed their separation, to the day which witnessed their death. As those words were whispered to me, the plaintive music ceased. Slowly the grand white mass of the people closed together again.

The crowd around me shuddered, and pressed together. The curtain between the trees was drawn aside, and the shrine was disclosed to view. There, raised high on a throne--seated on his typical antelope, with his four arms stretching towards the four corners of the earth--there, soared above us, dark and awful in the mystic light of heaven, the god of the Moon. after the lapse of eight centuries, the Moonstone looks forth once more, over the walls of the sacred city in which its story first began.

How it has found its way back to its wild native land--by what accident, or by what crime, the Indians regained possession of their sacred gem, may be in your knowledge, but is not in mine. What will be the next adventures of the Moonstone? /

To the Western railway station.that is the first, the only thought, when a man finds himself victimized, when his honor and fortune, his present and future, are wrecked by a vile conspiracy! The torment he endures under such circumstances can only be alleviated by the prospect of inflicting them a hundredfold upon his persecutors.

And nothing seems impossible at the first moment, when hatred surges in the brain, and the foam of anger rises to the lips; no obstacle seems insurmountable, or, rather, none are perceived. But later, when the faculties have regained their equilibrium, one can measure the distance which separates the dream from reality, the project from execution.

The fever of revolt passes by, and the victim wavers. He still breathes bitter vengeance, but he does not act. He despairs, and asks himself what would be the good of it? And in this way the success of villainy is once more assured. Similar despondency attacked Pascal Ferailleur when he awoke for the first time in the abode where he had hidden himself under the name of Maumejan. A frightful slander had crushed him to the earth--he could kill his slanderer, but afterward--? How was he to reach and stifle the slander itself? As well try to hold a handful of water; as well try to stay with extended arms the progress of the poisonous breeze which wafts an epidemic on its wings. So the hope that had momentarily lightened his heart faded away again.

Since he had received that fatal letter from Madame Leon the evening before, he believed that Marguerite was lost to him forever, and in this case, it was useless to struggle against fate. What would be the use of victory even if he conquered? Marguerite lost to him--what did the rest matter? if he had been alone in the world. But he had his mother to think of;--he belonged to this brave-hearted woman, who had saved him from suicide already. “I will not yield, then; I will struggle on for her sake,” he muttered, like a man who foresees the futility of his efforts. “I have come for you because the woman you spoke about last evening is already here, and before employing her, I want your advice.” “Then the woman doesn’t please you, mother?” “I want you to see her.” On entering the little parlor with his mother, Pascal found himself in the presence of a portly, pale-faced woman, with thin lips and restless eyes, who bowed obsequiously. It was indeed Madame Vantrasson, the landlady of the model lodging-house, who was seeking employment for the three or four hours which were at her disposal in the morning, she said. It certainly was not for pleasure that she had decided to go out to service again; her dignity suffered terribly by this fall--but then the stomach has to be cared for. Tenants were not numerous at the model lodging-house, in spite of its seductive title; and those who slept there occasionally, almost invariably succeeded in stealing something.

Nor did the grocery store pay; the few half-pence which were left there occasionally in exchange for a glass of liquor were pocketed by Vantrasson, who spent them at some neighboring establishment; for it is a well-known fact that the wine a man drinks in his own shop is always bitter in flavor. So, having no credit at the butcher’s or the baker’s, Madame Vantrasson was sometimes reduced to living for days together upon the contents of the shop--mouldy figs or dry raisins--which she washed down with torrents of ratafia, her only consolation here below.

She seemed to reflect, and after a great deal of counting on her fingers, she finally declared that she would be content with breakfast and fifteen francs a month, on condition she was allowed to do the marketing. The first question of French cooks, on presenting themselves for a situation, is almost invariably, “Shall I do the marketing?” which of course means, “Shall I have any opportunities for stealing?” Everybody knows this, and nobody is astonished at it. “I shall do the marketing myself,” declared Madame Ferailleur, boldly. “Then I shall want thirty francs a month,” replied Madame Vantrasson, promptly. Pascal and his mother exchanged glances. They were both unfavorably impressed by this woman, and were equally determined to rid themselves of her, which it was easy enough to do. “Too dear!” said Madame Ferailleur; “I have never given over fifteen francs.” But Madame Vantrasson was not the woman to be easily discouraged, especially as she knew that if she failed to obtain this situation, she might have considerable difficulty in finding another one. She could only hope to obtain employment from strangers and newcomers, who were ignorant of the reputation of the model lodging-house.

So in view of softening the hearts of Pascal and his mother, she began to relate the history of her life, skilfully mingling the false with the true, and representing herself as an unfortunate victim of circumstances, and the inhuman cruelty of relatives.

For she belonged, like her husband, to a very respectable family, as the Maumejans might easily ascertain by inquiry. Vantrasson’s sister was the wife of a man named Greloux, who had once been a bookbinder in the Rue Saint-Denis, but who had now retired from business with a competency. “Why had this Greloux refused to save them from bankruptcy? Because one could never hope for a favor from relatives,” she groaned; “they are jealous if you succeed; and if you are unfortunate, they cast you off.” However, these doleful complaints, far from rendering Madame Vantrasson interesting, imparted a deceitful and most disagreeable expression to her countenance. She expressed her willingness to deduct five francs from the sum she had named, but more--it was impossible! Would they haggle over ten francs to secure such a treasure as herself, an honest, settled woman, who was entirely devoted to her employers?

Monsieur and madame would be delighted with my cooking, for I have seen more than one fine gentleman smack his lips over my sauces when was in the employment of the Count de Chalusse.” Pascal and his mother could not repress a start on hearing this name; but it was in a tone of well-assumed indifference that Madame Ferailleur repeated, “M. But he’s dead and he’s to be buried this very day.” And with an air of profound secrecy, she added: “On going yesterday to the Hotel de Chalusse to ask for a little help, I heard of the great misfortune. Vantrasson, my husband, accompanied me, and while we were talking with the concierge, a young woman passed through the hall, and he recognized her as a person who some time ago was--well--no better than she should be. Now, however, she’s a young lady as lofty as the clouds, and the deceased count has been passing her off as his daughter. this is a strange world.” Pascal had become whiter than the ceiling.

On these occasions I will give you your dinner.” And taking five francs from her pocket she placed them in Madame Vantrasson’s hand, adding: “Here is your earnest money.” The other quickly pocketed the coin, not a little surprised by this sudden decision which she had scarcely hoped for, and which she by no means understood. Still she was so delighted with this denouement that she expressed her willingness to enter upon her duties at once; and to get rid of her Madame Ferailleur was obliged to send her out to purchase the necessary supplies for breakfast. Then, as soon as she was alone with her son, she turned to him and asked: “Well, Pascal?” But the wretched man seemed turned to stone, and seeing that he neither spoke nor moved, she continued in a severe tone: “Is this the way you keep your resolutions and your oaths! You express your intention of accomplishing a task which requires inexhaustible patience and dissimulation, and at the very first unforeseen circumstance your coolness deserts you, and you lose your head completely. You must renounce your revenge, and tamely submit to be conquered by the Marquis de Valorsay if your face is to be an open book in which any one may read your secret plans and thoughts.” Pascal shook his head dejectedly. “Didn’t you hear, mother?” he faltered. This young lady whom she spoke of, whom her husband recognized, can be none other than Marguerite.” “I am sure of it.” He recoiled in horror. Didn’t you understand the shameful meaning of her insinuations?

Didn’t you see her hypocritical smile and the malice gleaming in her eyes?” He pressed his hands to his burning brow, and groaned “And I did not crush the infamous wretch!

I did not fell her to the ground!” Ah! if she had obeyed the impulse of her heart. The worthy woman’s heart was pervaded with that lofty sentiment of duty which sustains the humble heroines of the fireside, and lends them even more courage than the reckless adventurers whose names are recorded by history could boast of. You only know that hers has been a life of great vicissitudes--and so it is not strange that she should be slandered.” “In that case, mother,” said Pascal, “you were wrong to interrupt Madame Vantrasson. “My God!” he exclaimed, “to be reduced to the unspeakable misery of hearing my mother doubt Marguerite!” He did not doubt her. HE could have listened to the most infamous accusations against her without feeling a single doubt. It seemed to me that you had sworn to act, not to complain.” This ironical thrust touched Pascal’s sensitive mind to the quick; he rose at once to his feet, and coldly said, “That’s true.

She had read her son’s heart, and perceiving his hesitation and weakness she had supplied the stimulus he needed. If her suspicions had been aroused, this delay would suffice to dispel them. He said but little during breakfast; for he was now eager to commence the struggle. He longed to act, and yet he scarcely knew how to begin the campaign. First of all, he must study the enemy’s position--gain some knowledge of the men he had to deal with, find out exactly who the Marquis de Valorsay and the Viscount de Coralth were. Where could he obtain information respecting these two men? Should he be compelled to follow them and to gather up here and there such scraps of intelligence as came in his way? This method of proceeding would be slow and inconvenient in the extreme.

He was revolving the subject in his mind when he suddenly remembered the man who, on the morning that followed the scene at Madame d’Argeles’s house, had come to him in the Rue d’Ulm to give him a proof of his confidence. He remembered that this strange man had said: “If you ever need a helping hand, come to me.” And at the recollection he made up his mind. “I am going to Baron Trigault’s,” he remarked to his mother; “if my presentiments don’t deceive me, he will be of service to us.” In less than half an hour he was on his way. He had dressed himself in the oldest clothes he possessed; and this, with the change he had made by cutting off his hair and beard, had so altered his appearance that it was necessary to look at him several times, and most attentively, to recognize him.

The visiting cards which he carried in his pocket bore the inscription: “P. Maumejan, Business Agent, Route de la Revolte.” His knowledge of Parisian life had induced him to choose the same profession as M. “I will enter the nearest cafe and ask for a directory,” he said to himself. “I shall certainly find Baron Trigault’s address in it.” The baron lived in the Rue de la Ville-l’Eveque. His mansion was one of the largest and most magnificent in the opulent district of the Madeleine, and its aspect was perfectly in keeping with its owner’s character as an expert financier, and a shrewd manufacturer, the possessor of valuable mines. The marvellous luxury so surprised Pascal, that he asked himself how the owner of this princely abode could find any pleasure at the gaming table of the Hotel d’Argeles. Five or six footmen were lounging about the courtyard when he entered it. He walked straight up to one of them, and with his hat in his hand, asked: “Baron Trigault, if you please?” If he had asked for the Grand Turk the valet would not have looked at him with greater astonishment. His surprise, indeed, seemed so profound that Pascal feared he had made some mistake and added: “Doesn’t he live here?” The servant laughed heartily.

“This is certainly his house,” he replied, “and strange to say, by some fortunate chance, he’s here.” “I wish to speak with him on business.” The servant called one of his colleagues. Florestan--is the baron receiving?” “The baroness hasn’t forbidden it.” This seemed to satisfy the footman; for, turning to Pascal he said: “In that case, you can follow me.” II. The sumptuous interior of the Trigault mansion was on a par with its external magnificence. Even the entrance bespoke the lavish millionaire, eager to conquer difficulties, jealous of achieving the impossible, and never haggling when his fancies were concerned. The spacious hall, paved with costly mosaics, had been transformed into a conservatory full of flowers, which were renewed every morning. Rare plants climbed the walls up gilded trellis work, or hung from the ceiling in vases of rare old china, while from among the depths of verdure peered forth exquisite statues, the work of sculptors of renown. On a rustic bench sat a couple of tall footmen, as bright in their gorgeous liveries as gold coins fresh from the mint; still, despite their splendor, they were stretching and yawning to such a degree, that it seemed as if they would ultimately dislocate their jaws and arms.

“Tell me,” inquired the servant who was escorting Pascal, “can any one speak to the baron?” “Why?” “This gentleman has something to say to him.” The two valets eyed the unknown visitor, plainly considering him to be one of those persons who have no existence for the menials of fashionable establishments, and finally burst into a hearty laugh. “Upon my word!” exclaimed the eldest, “he’s just in time. And, heavenly powers, isn’t he tantalizing!” The most intense curiosity gleamed in the eyes of Pascal’s conductor, and with an airy of secrecy, he asked: “What is the cause of the rumpus? Van Klopen.” “Madame’s dressmaker?” “The same.

Monsieur and madame were breakfasting together--a most unusual thing--when M. I thought to myself, when I admitted him: ‘Look out for storms!’ I scented one in the air, and in fact the dressmaker hadn’t been in the room five minutes before we heard the baron’s voice rising higher and higher. the mantua-maker is presenting his bill!’ Madame cried and went on like mad; but, pshaw! when the master really begins, there’s no one like him. There isn’t a cab-driver in Paris who’s his equal for swearing.” “And M. When gentlemen abuse him he does the same as dogs do when they come up out of the water; he just shakes his head and troubles himself no more about it.

He has decidedly the best of the row.

He has furnished the goods, and he’ll have to be paid sooner or later----” “What! hasn’t he been paid then?” “I don’t know; he’s still here.” A terrible crash of breaking china interrupted this edifying conversation. “There!” exclaimed one of the footmen, “that’s monsieur; he has smashed two or three hundred francs’ worth of dishes. He MUST be rich to pay such a price for his angry fits.” “Well,” observed the other, “if I were in monsieur’s place I should be angry too. I’m only a servant, but----” “Nonsense, it’s the fashion. A man who----” He stopped short; in fact, the others had motioned him to be silent. The baron was surrounded by exceptional servants, and the presence of a stranger acted as a restraint upon them. For this reason, one of them, after asking Pascal for his card, opened a door and ushered him into a small room, saying: “I will go and inform the baron. Please wait here.” “Here,” as he called it, was a sort of smoking-room hung with cashmere of fantastic design and gorgeous hues, and encircled by a low, cushioned divan, covered with the same material.

But Pascal, already amazed by the conversation of the servants, did not think of examining these objects of virtu. Through a partially open doorway, directly opposite the one he had entered by, came the sound of loud voices in excited conversation.

Baron Trigault, the baroness, and the famous Van Klopen were evidently in the adjoining room. It was a woman, the baroness, who was speaking, and the quivering of her clear and somewhat shrill voice betrayed a violent irritation, which was only restrained with the greatest difficulty. “It is hard for the wife of one of the richest men in Paris to see a bill for absolute necessities disputed in this style,” she was saying. A man’s voice, with a strong Teutonic accent, the voice of Van Klopen, the Hollander, caught up the refrain. And if, before flying into a passion, Monsieur le Baron had taken the trouble to glance over my little bill, he would have seen----” “No more! Besides I haven’t time to listen to your nonsense; they are waiting for me to play a game of whist at the club.” This time it was the master of the house, Baron Trigault, who spoke, and Pascal recognized his voice instantly. “If monsieur would only allow me to read the items. And as if he had construed the oath that answered him as an exclamation of assent, he began: “In June, a Hungarian costume with jacket and sash, two train dresses with upper skirts and trimmings of lace, a Medicis polonaise, a jockey costume, a walking costume, a riding-habit, two morning-dresses, a Velleda costume, an evening dress.” “I was obliged to attend the races very frequently during the month of June,” remarked the baroness. But the illustrious adorner of female loveliness had already resumed his reading. “In July we have: two morning-jackets, one promenade costume, one sailor suit, one Watteau shepherdess costume, one ordinary bathing-suit, with material for parasol and shoes to match, one Pompadour bathing-suit, one dressing-gown, one close-fitting Medicis mantle, two opera cloaks----” “And I was certainly not the most elegantly attired of the ladies at Trouville, where I spent the month of July,” interrupted the baroness.

“There are but few entries in the month of August,” continued Van Klopen. “We have: a morning-dress, a travelling-dress, with trimmings----” And he went on and on, gasping for breath, rattling off the ridiculous names which he gave to his “creations,” and interrupted every now and then by the blow of a clinched fist on the table, or by a savage oath. Pascal stood in the smoking-room, motionless with astonishment.

He did not know what surprised him the most, Van Klopen’s impudence in daring to read such a bill, the foolishness of the woman who had ordered all these things, or the patience of the husband who was undoubtedly going to pay for them. At last, after what seemed an interminable enumeration, Van Klopen exclaimed: “And that’s all!” “Yes, that’s all,” repeated the baroness, like an echo. “That’s all!” exclaimed the baron--“that’s all! That is to say, in four months, at least seven hundred yards of silk, velvet, satin, and muslin, have been put on this woman’s back!” “The dresses of the present day require a great deal of material. Twenty-seven thousand nine hundred and thirty-three francs, ninety centimes.” “Call it twenty-eight thousand francs then. Van Klopen, if you are ever paid for this rubbish it won’t be by me.” If Van Klopen was expecting this denouement, Pascal wasn’t; in fact, he was so startled, that an exclamation escaped him which would have betrayed his presence under almost any other circumstances. What amazed him most was the baron’s perfect calmness, following, as it did, such a fit of furious passion, violent enough even to be heard in the vestibule.

“Either he has extraordinary control over himself or this scene conceals some mystery,” thought Pascal. Meanwhile, the man-milliner continued to urge his claims--but the baron, instead of replying, only whistled; and wounded by this breach of good manners, Van Klopen at last exclaimed: “I have had dealings with all the distinguished men in Europe, and never before did one of them refuse to pay me for his wife’s toilettes.” “Very well--I don’t pay for them--there’s the difference. Do you suppose that I, Baron Trigault, that I’ve worked like a negro for twenty years merely for the purpose of aiding your charming and useful branch of industry?

Gather up your papers, Mr. There may be husbands who believe themselves responsible for their wives’ follies--it’s quite possible there are--but I’m not made of that kind of stuff. I allow Madame Trigault eight thousand francs a month for her toilette--that is sufficient--and it is a matter for you and her to arrange together. And I not only said it, I formally notified you through my private secretary.” “I remember, indeed----” “Then why do you come to me with your bill? Apply to her, and leave me in peace.” “Madame promised me----” “Teach her to keep her promises.” “It costs a great deal to retain one’s position as a leader of fashion; and many of the most distinguished ladies are obliged to run into debt,” urged Van Klopen. “That’s their business. She is simply Madame Trigault, a baroness, thanks to her husband’s gold and the condescension of a worthy German prince, who was in want of money. SHE is not a person of consequence--she has no rank to keep up.” The baroness must have attached immense importance to the satisfying of Van Klopen’s demands, for concealing the anger this humiliating scene undoubtedly caused her, she condescended to try and explain, and even to entreat.

Pay, monsieur--pay just once more.” “No!” “If not for my sake, for your own.” “Not a farthing.” By the baron’s tone, Pascal realized that his wife would never shake his fixed determination. Such must also have been the opinion of the illustrious ruler of fashion, for he returned to the charge with an argument he had held in reserve. “If this is the case, I shall, to my great regret, be obliged to fail in the respect I owe to Monsieur le Baron, and to place this bill in the hands of a solicitor.” “Send him along--send him along.” “I cannot believe that monsieur wishes a law-suit.” “In that you are greatly mistaken. Do you think that wives are to turn their husbands into machines for supplying money?

You draw the bow-string too tightly, my dear fellow--it will break. I’ll proclaim on the house-top what others dare not say, and we’ll see if I don’t succeed in organizing a little crusade against you.” And animated by the sound of his own words, his anger came back to him, and in a louder and ever louder voice he continued: “Ah! you prate of the scandal that would be created by my resistance to your demands. I know the goings on in your establishment.

It isn’t always to talk about dress that ladies stop at your place on returning from the Bois. You sell silks and satins no doubt; but you sell Madeira, and excellent cigarettes as well, and there are some who don’t walk very straight on leaving your establishment, but smell suspiciously of tobacco and absinthe. I shall have an advocate who will know how to explain the parts your customers pay, and who will reveal how, with your assistance, they obtain money from other sources than their husband’s cash-box.” When M.

“And I!” he exclaimed, “I will tell people that Baron Trigault, after losing all his money at play, repays his creditors with curses.” The noise of an overturned chair told Pascal that the baron had sprung up in a furious passion “You may say what you like, you rascally fool! “Leave--leave, or I will ring----” “Monsieur----” “Leave, leave, I tell you, or I sha’n’t have the patience to wait for a servant!” He must have joined action to word, and have seized Van Klopen by the collar to thrust him into the hall, for Pascal heard a sound of scuffling, a series of oaths worthy of a coal-heaver, two or three frightened cries from the baroness, and several guttural exclamations in German. Then a door closed with such violence that the whole house shook, and a magnificent clock, fixed to the wall of the smoking-room, fell on to the floor. But more and more clearly he understood that there must be some greater cause of difference between husband and wife than this bill of twenty-eight thousand francs. Evidently there was some skeleton in this household--one of those terrible secrets which make a man and his wife enemies, and all the more bitter enemies as they are bound together by a chain which it is impossible to break. And undoubtedly, a good many of the insults which the baron had heaped upon Van Klopen must have been intended for the baroness. These thoughts darted through Pascal’s mind with the rapidity of lightning, and showed him the horrible position in which he was placed. The baron, who had been so favorably disposed toward him, and from whom he was expecting a great service, would undoubtedly hate him, undoubtedly become his enemy, when he learned that he had been a listener, although an involuntary one, to this conversation with Van Klopen. What had become of the footman who had taken his card? These were questions which he was unable to answer.

If he could have retired noiselessly, if he could have reached the courtyard and have made his escape without being observed he would not have hesitated. Would it not be discovered sooner or later that he had been in the smoking-room while M. Van Klopen was in the dining-room? In any case, delicacy of feeling as well as his own interest forbade him to remain any longer a listener to the private conversation of the baron and his wife. He therefore noisily moved a chair, and coughed in that affected style which means in every country: “Take care--I’m here!” But he did not succeed in attracting attention. And yet the silence was profound; he could distinctly hear the creaking of the baron’s boots, as he paced to and fro, and the sound of fingers nervously beating a tattoo on the table. If he desired to avoid hearing the confidential conversation, which would no doubt ensue between the baron and his wife, there was but one course for him to pursue, and that was to reveal his presence at once. He was about to do so, when some one opened a door which must have led from the hall into the dining-room.

He listened attentively, but only heard a few confused words, to which the baron replied: “Very well. I will see him in a moment.” Pascal breathed freely once more. “They have just given him my card,” he thought. “I can remain now; he will come here in a moment.” The baron must really have started to leave the room, for his wife exclaimed: “One word more: have you quite decided?” “Oh, fully!” “You are resolved to leave me exposed to the persecutions of my dressmaker?” “Van Klopen is too charming and polite to cause you the least worry.” “You will brave the disgrace of a law-suit?” “Nonsense!

And, besides, pray tell me where the disgrace would be? If all husbands were as courageous, we should soon close the establishments of these artful men, who minister to your vanity, and use you ladies as puppets, or living advertisements, to display the absurd fashions which enrich them.” The baron took two or three more steps forward, as if about to leave the room, but his wife interposed: “The Baroness Trigault, whose husband has an income of seven or eight hundred thousand francs a year, can’t go about clad like a simple woman of the middle classes.” “I should see nothing so very improper in that.” “Oh, I know.

I shall never consent to make myself ridiculous among the ladies of my set--among my friends.” “It would indeed be a pity to arouse the disapproval of your friends.” This sneering remark certainly irritated the baroness, for it was with the greatest vehemence that she replied: “All my friends are ladies of the highest rank in society--noble ladies!” The baron no doubt shrugged his shoulders, for in a tone of crushing irony and scorn, he exclaimed: “Noble ladies! The brainless fools who only think of displaying themselves and making themselves notorious?--the senseless idiots who pique themselves on surpassing lewd women in audacity, extravagance, and effrontery, who fleece their husbands as cleverly as courtesans fleece their lovers? the idiots who long for the applause of the crowd, and consider notoriety to be desirable and flattering. A woman is only noble by her virtues--and the chief of all virtues, modesty, is entirely wanting in your illustrious friends----” “Monsieur,” interrupted the baroness, in a voice husky with anger, “you forget yourself--you----” But the baron was well under way. “If it is scandal that crowns one a great lady, you ARE one--and one of the greatest; for you are notorious--almost as notorious as Jenny Fancy. Can’t I learn from the newspapers all your sayings and gestures, your amusements, your occupations, and the toilettes you wear? It is impossible to read of a first performance at a theatre, or of a horse-race, without finding your name coupled with that of Jenny Fancy, or Cora Pearl, or Ninette Simplon.

you are a treasure to the reporters. On the day before yesterday the Baroness Trigault skated in the Bois. On the day after to-morrow she will inaugurate a new style of hair-dressing, and take part in a comedy.

It is always the Baroness Trigault who is the observed of all observers at Vincennes. The Baroness Trigault has lost five hundred louis in betting. The Baroness Trigault uses her lorgnette with charming impertinence. It is she who has declared it proper form to take a ‘drop’ on returning from the Bois.

No one is so famed for ‘form,’ as the baroness--and silk merchants have bestowed her name upon a color. People rave of the Trigault blue--what glory! There are also costumes Trigault, for the witty, elegant baroness has a host of admirers who follow her everywhere, and loudly sing her praises. This is what I, a plain, honest man, read every day in the newspapers.

The whole world not only knows how my wife dresses, but how she looks en dishabille, and how she is formed; folks are aware that she has an exquisite foot, a divinely-shaped leg, and a perfect hand. No one is ignorant of the fact that my wife’s shoulders are of dazzling whiteness, and that high on the left shoulder there is a most enticing little mole. I had the satisfaction of reading this particular last evening. and I am truly a fortunate man!” In the smoking-room, Pascal could hear the baroness angrily stamp her foot, as she exclaimed: “It is an outrageous insult--your journalists are most impertinent.” “Why?

Do they ever trouble honest women?” “They wouldn’t trouble me if I had a husband who knew how to make them treat me with respect!” The baron laughed a strident, nervous laugh, which it was not pleasant to hear, and which revealed the fact that intense suffering was hidden beneath all this banter. “Would you like me to fight a duel then? After twenty years has the idea of ridding yourself of me occurred to you again? Besides, you would be inconsolable if the newspapers ceased talking about you for a single day. The publicity you complain of is the last anchor which prevents society from drifting one knows not where. Those who would not listen to the warning voice of honor and conscience are restrained by the fear of a little paragraph which might disclose their shame. Now that a woman no longer has a conscience, the newspapers act in place of it. And I think it quite right, for it is our only hope of salvation.” By the stir in the adjoining room, Pascal felt sure that the baroness had stationed herself before the door to prevent her husband from leaving her. I will have them, too; I am resolved to have them, and you will give them to me.” “Oh!” thundered the baron, “you WILL have them--you will----” He paused, and then, after a moment’s reflection, he said: “Very well.

Still if, as you say, it is absolutely necessary that you should have it to-day, there is a means of procuring it. Pawn your diamonds for thirty thousand francs--I authorize you to do so; and I give you my word of honor that I will redeem them within a week. Say, will you do this?” And, as the baroness made no reply, he continued: “You don’t answer! It is because your diamonds were long since sold and replaced by imitation ones; it is because you are head over heels in debt; it is because you have stooped so low as to borrow your maid’s savings; it is because you already owe three thousand francs to one of my coachmen; it is because our steward lends you money at the rate of thirty or forty per cent.” “It is false!” The baron sneered. “I’m not often at home, it’s true--the sight of you exasperates me; but I know what’s going on. You believe me your dupe, but you are altogether mistaken. If he brought me a bill this morning, it was only because you had begged him to do so, and because it had been agreed he should give you the money back if I paid him. Fernand de Coralth has demanded that sum, and because you have promised to give it to him!” Leaning against the wall of the smoking-room, speechless and motionless, holding his breath, with his hands pressed upon his heart, as if to stop its throbbings, Pascal Ferailleur listened.

The name of the Viscount de Coralth, thus mentioned in the course of this frightful scene, came as a revelation to him.

He now understood the meaning of the baron’s conduct. His visit to the Rue d’Ulm, and his promises of help were all explained. “My mother was right,” he thought; “the baron hates that miserable viscount mortally. He will do all in his power to assist me.” Meanwhile, the baroness energetically denied her husband’s charges. He allowed her to speak for a moment, and then suddenly, in a harsh, sarcastic voice, he interrupted her by saying: “Oh! I know only too well that what I say is true; and if you desire proofs, they shall be in your hands in less than half an hour. Nothing concerning you has escaped my knowledge and observation since the cursed day when I discovered the depths of your disgrace and infamy--since the terrible evening when I heard you plan to murder me in cold blood. You had grown accustomed to freedom of action; while I, who had gone off with the first gold-seekers, was braving a thousand dangers in California, so as to win wealth and luxury for you more quickly. We had a daughter; and if a fear or a doubt entered my mind, I told myself that the sight of her cradle would drive all evil thoughts from your heart. The adultery of a childless wife may be forgiven or explained; but that of a mother, never!

With what joyous pride, on my return after an absence of eighteen months, I showed you the treasures I had brought back with me! I said to you as I embraced you: ‘It is yours, my well-beloved, the source of all my happiness!’ But you did not care for me--I wearied you! You loved another! I should consider myself amply revenged if I could make you suffer for a single day all the torments that I endured for long months. You had not even the excuse, if excuse it be, of a powerful, all-absorbing passion.

Convinced of your treachery, I resolved to ascertain everything, and I discovered that in my absence you had become a mother. How did I have the courage to remain silent and conceal what I knew? it was because, by watching you, I hoped to discover the cursed bastard and your accomplice. It was because I dreamed of a vengeance as terrible as the offence. I said to myself that the day would come when, at any risk, you would try to see your child again, to embrace her, and provide for her future. ever asked yourself into what depths of vice she may have fallen?” “Always the same ridiculous accusation!” exclaimed the baroness. I have repeated it a thousand times since.” The baron uttered a sigh that was very like a sob, and without paying any heed to his wife’s words, he continued: “If I consented to allow you to remain under my roof, it was only for the sake of our daughter. I trembled lest the scandal of a separation should fall upon her. you blame me for that?” “Whom ought I to blame, then?

Who took her to balls, and theatres and races--to every place where a young girl ought NOT to be taken? Who married her to a wretch who is a disgrace to the title he bears, and who has completed the work of demoralization you began? Her extravagance has made her notorious even among the shameless women who pretend to be leaders of society.

She is scarcely twenty-two, and there is not a single prejudice left for her to brave! Her husband is the companion of actresses and courtesans; her own companions are no better--and in less than two years the million of francs which I bestowed on her as a dowry has been squandered, recklessly squandered--for there isn’t a penny of it left. On the day before yesterday--listen carefully to this--my son-in-law came to ask me for a hundred thousand francs, and when I refused them, he threatened if I did not give them to him that he would publish some letters written by my daughter--by his wife--to some low scoundrel. But that same evening I learned that the husband and wife, my daughter and my son-in-law, had concocted this vile conspiracy together.

Leaving here, and not wishing to return home that day, he telegraphed the good news to his wife. But in his delight he made a mistake in the address, and the telegram was brought here. I opened it, and read: ‘Papa has fallen into the trap, my darling. I beat my drum, and he surrendered at once.’ Yes, that is what he dared to write, and sign with his own name, and then send to his wife--my daughter!” Pascal was absolutely terrified. He wondered if he were not the victim of some absurd nightmare--if his senses were not playing him false. He had little conception of the terrible dramas which are constantly enacted in these superb mansions, so admired and envied by the passing crowd.

He thought that the baroness would be crushed--that she would fall on her knees before her husband. The tone of her voice told him that, instead of yielding, she was only bent on retaliation. “How dare you censure him--you who drag your name through all the gambling dens of Europe?” “Wretch!” interrupted the baron, “wretch!” But quickly mastering himself, he remarked: “Yes, it’s true that I gamble. People say, ‘That great Baron Trigault is never without cards in his hands!’ But you know very well that I really hold gambling in horror--that I loathe it. I tried drink, but it wouldn’t drown thought, so I had recourse to cards; and when the stakes are large, and my fortune is imperilled, I sometimes lose consciousness of my misery!” The baroness gave vent to a cold, sneering laugh, and, in a tone of mocking commiseration, she said: “Poor baron! It is no doubt in the hope of forgetting your sorrows that you spend all your time--when you are not gambling--with a woman named Lia d’Argeles. She’s rather pretty.

I have seen her several times in the Bois----” “Be silent!” exclaimed the baron, “be silent! or I sha’n’t be responsible for my acts!” Pascal heard a chair move, the floor creak, and a moment afterward a lady passed quickly through the smoking-room. And, besides, he was standing a little back in the shade. It was as if he had seen an apparition, and he was vainly striving to drive away a terrible, mysterious fear, when a heavy footfall made the floor of the dining-room creak anew. The noise restored him to consciousness of his position. “It is the baron!” he thought; “he is coming this way! A man would never forgive another man for hearing what I have just heard.” Why should he not try to make his escape? The card, bearing the name of Maumejan, would be no proof of his visit. He could see the baron somewhere else some other day--elsewhere than at his own house, so that he need not fear the recognition of the servants.

These thoughts flashed through his mind, and he was about to fly, when a harsh cry held him spell-bound. Baron Trigault was standing on the threshold. His emotion, as is almost always the case with corpulent people, was evinced by a frightful distortion of his features. His face was transformed, his lips had become perfectly white, and his eyes seemed to be starting from their sockets. monsieur, don’t you recognize me?” rejoined Pascal, who in his agitation forgot that the baron had seen him only twice before. He forgot the absence of his beard, his almost ragged clothing, and all the precautions he had taken to render recognition impossible.

“I have never met any person named Maumejan,” said the baron. Have you forgotten the innocent man who was caught in that infamous snare set for him by the Viscount de Coralth?” “Yes, yes,” replied the baron, “I remember you now.” And then recollecting the terrible scene that had just taken place in the adjoining room: “How long have you been here?” he asked. Should Pascal tell a falsehood, or confess the truth? He hesitated, but his hesitation lasted scarcely the tenth part of a second. The baron’s livid cheeks suddenly became purple, his eyes glittered, and it seemed by his threatening gesture as if he were strongly tempted to murder this man, who had discovered the terrible, disgraceful secrets of his domestic life.

The terrible ordeal which he had just passed through had exhausted him mentally and physically, and it was in a faltering voice that he resumed: “Then you have not lost a word--a word of what was said in the other room?” “Not a word.” The baron sank on to the divan.

“So the knowledge of my disgrace is no longer confined to myself!” he exclaimed. “A stranger’s eye has penetrated the depths of misery I have fallen into! The secret of my wretchedness and shame is mine no longer!” “Oh, monsieur, monsieur!” interrupted Pascal. “Before I recross the threshold of your home, all shall have been forgotten. I swear it by all that is most sacred!” He had raised his hand as if to take a solemn oath, when the baron caught hold of it, and, pressing it with sorrowful gratitude, exclaimed: “I believe you! I have a wife and a daughter--but they hate me.

They long for my death, which would give them possession of my wealth. For months together I dared not eat a morsel of food, either in my own house, or in the house of my son-in-law. To prevent a crime, I was obliged to resort to the strangest expedients. So, they now have an interest in prolonging my life.” As he spoke he sprang up with an almost frenzied air, and, seizing Pascal by the arm, again continued. This woman--my wife--you know--you have heard the extent of her shame and degradation. “This amazes you, eh?” rejoined the baron. “It is indeed incomprehensible, monstrous--but it is the truth. Do what she may, I can only see in her the chaste and beautiful wife of our early married life.

I love her madly, passionately; I cannot tear her from my heart!” So speaking, he sank sobbing on to the divan again. Was this, indeed, the frivolous and jovial Baron Trigault whom Pascal had seen at Madame d’Argeles’s house--the man of self-satisfied mien and superb assurance, the good-natured cynic, the frequenter of gambling-dens? But the baron whom the world knew was only a comedian; this was the real man. To what do I owe the honor of this visit?” “To your own kind offer, monsieur, and the hope that you will help me in refuting this slander, and wreaking vengeance upon those who have ruined me.” “Oh! yes, I will help you in that to the full extent of my power,” exclaimed the baron. But experience reminded him that confidential disclosures ought not to be made with the doors open, so he rose, shut them, and returning to Pascal, said: “Explain in what way I can be of service to you, monsieur.” It was not without many misgivings that Pascal had presented himself at the baron’s house, but after what he had heard he felt no further hesitation; he could speak with perfect freedom. “It is quite unnecessary for me to tell you, Monsieur le Baron,” he began, “that the cards which made me win were inserted in the pack by M.

de Coralth--that is proven beyond question, and whatever the consequences may be, I shall have my revenge. But before striking him, I wish to reach the man whose instrument he was.” “What! de Coralth acted in obedience to the instructions of some other scoundrel whose courage does not equal his meanness.” “Perhaps so! I think he would shrink from nothing in the way of rascality. But who could have employed him in this vile work of dishonoring an honest man?” “The Marquis de Valorsay.” On hearing this name, the baron bounded to his feet. de Valorsay is incapable of the villainy you ascribe to him. He is one of my few trusted friends; we see each other almost every day. de Coralth to do the deed.” “But why?

He put me out of the way more surely than if he had murdered me. If I died, she might mourn for me--dishonored, she would spurn me----” “Is Valorsay so madly in love with the girl, then?” “I think he cares but very little for her.” “Then why----” “She is the heiress of several millions.” It was evident that this explanation did not shake Baron Trigault’s faith in his friend. “But the marquis has an income of a hundred and fifty or two hundred thousand francs,” said he; “that is an all-sufficient justification. With his fortune and his name, he is in a position to choose his wife from among all the heiresses of France. Why should he address his attentions in particular to the woman you love?

if he were poor--if his fortune were impaired--if he felt the need of regilding his escutcheon, like my son-in-law----” He paused; there was a rap at the door. The baron called out: “Come in,” and a valet appeared, and informed his master that the Marquis de Valorsay wished to speak with him. It was the enemy! “Ask the marquis into the next room,” said the baron. “I will join him there at once.” Then as the servant retired, the baron turned to Pascal and said: “Well, M. You probably intend me to hear the conversation you are going to have with M. I shall leave the door open, and you can listen.” This word, “listen,” was uttered without bitterness, or even reproach; and yet Pascal could not help blushing and hanging his head. “I wish to prove to you that your suspicions are without foundation,” pursued the baron. I will conduct the conversation in the form of a cross-examination, and after the marquis’s departure, you will be obliged to confess that you were wrong.” “Or you, that I am right?” “So be it. Any one is liable to be mistaken, and I am not obstinate.” He was about to leave the room, when Pascal detained him.

“I scarcely know how to testify my gratitude even now, monsieur, and yet--if I dared--if I did not fear to abuse your kindness, I should ask one more favor.” “Speak, Monsieur Ferailleur.” “It is this, I do not know the Marquis de Valorsay; and if, instead of leaving the door wide open, you would partially close it, I should hear as distinctly, and I could also see him.” “Agreed,” replied the baron. And, opening the door, he passed into the dining-room, with his right hand cordially extended, and saying, in his most genial tones: “Excuse me, my dear friend, for keeping you waiting.

Are you quite well?” As the baron entered the room, the marquis had stepped quickly forward to meet him. Either he was inspired with fresh hope, or else he had wonderful powers of self-control, for never had he looked more calm--never had his face evinced haughtier indifference, more complete satisfaction with himself, and greater contempt for others. If he experienced any secret anxiety, it only showed itself in a slightly increased stiffness of his right leg--the limb broken in hunting. “I ought rather to inquire concerning your own health,” he remarked. “You seem greatly disturbed; your cravat is untied.” And, pointing to the broken china scattered about the floor, he added: “On seeing this, I asked myself if an accident had not happened.” “The baroness was taken suddenly ill at the breakfast table. She has I don’t know how many hundred louis staked upon your horses.” The marquis’s countenance assumed an expression of cordial regret. “But I sha’n’t take part in the races at Vincennes. And, in future, I shall have nothing to do with racing.” “Nonsense!” “It is the truth, however.

I have been led to this determination by the infamous slander which has been circulated respecting me.” This answer was a mere trifle, but it somewhat shook Baron Trigault’s confidence. Last Sunday the best horse in my stables, Domingo, came in third. He was the favorite in the ring. You can understand the rest. This is an every-day occurrence, I know very well; but, as regards myself, it is none the less an infamous lie!” “Who has dared to circulate such a report?” “Oh, how can I tell? It is a fact, however, that the story has been circulated everywhere, but in such a cautious manner that there is no way of calling the authors to account. They have even gone so far as to say that this piece of knavery brought me in an enormous sum, and that I used Rochecotte’s, Kervaulieu’s, and Coralth’s names in betting against my own horse.” The baron’s agitation was so great that M. de Valorsay observed it, though he did not understand the cause. Living in the same society with the Baroness Trigault, and knowing her story, he thought that Coralth’s name might, perhaps, have irritated the baron. “And so,” he quickly continued, “don’t be surprised if, during the coming week, you see the sale of my horses announced.” “What!

I have nineteen; and it will be very strange if I don’t get eight or ten thousand louis for the lot. The person who talks of selling proclaims his need of money--and often his approaching ruin. “It will save you at least a hundred and fifty or sixty thousand francs a year,” observed the baron. “Double it and you won’t come up to the mark. my dear baron, you have yet to learn that there is nothing so ruinous as a racing stable. My manager declares that the twenty-three thousand francs I won last year, cost me at least fifty thousand.” Was he boasting, or was he speaking the truth? The baron was engaged in a rapid calculation. Then he must have been living on the principal--he is ruined.” Meanwhile the marquis gayly continued: “You see, I’m going to make a change in my mode of life. I begin to find a bachelor life not so very pleasant after all; there is rheumatism in prospect, and my digestion is becoming impaired--in short, I feel that it is time for marriage, baron; and--I am about to marry.” “You!” “Yes, I.

It has been talked of at the club for three days or more.” “No, this is the first intimation I have received of it. It is true, however, that I have not been to the club for three days.

I have made a wager with Kami-Bey, you know--that rich Turk--and as our sittings are eight or ten hours long, we play in his apartments at the Grand Hotel.

And so you are to be married,” the baron continued, after a slight pause. And then in a most confidential manner he resumed: “She will soon be consoled. Add to this that I have promised her fifty thousand francs to dry her tears with on my wedding-day, and you will understand that she really longs to see me married.” “I understand,” replied the baron; “Ninette Simplon won’t trouble you. But I can’t understand why you should talk of economy on the eve of a marriage which will no doubt double your fortune; for I’m sure you won’t surrender your liberty without good and substantial reasons.” “You are mistaken.” “How mistaken?” “Well, I won’t hesitate to confess to you, my dear baron, that the girl I am about to marry hasn’t a penny of her own. My future wife has no dowry save her black eyes--but they are certainly superb ones.” This assertion seemed to disprove Pascal’s statements.

“Can it really be you who are talking in this strain?” cried the baron. “You, a practical, worldly man, give way to such a burst of sentiment?” “Well, yes.” The baron opened his eyes in astonishment. then you adore your future bride!” “Adore only feebly expresses my feelings.” “I must be dreaming.” Valorsay shrugged his shoulders with the air of a man who has made up his mind to accept the banter of his friends; and in a tone of mingled sentimentality and irony, he said: “I know that it’s absurd, and that I shall be the laughing-stock of my acquaintances. Well, one fine morning I woke up with the heart of a youth of twenty beating in my breast--a heart which trembled at the slightest glance from the girl I love, and sent purple flushes to my face. I was ashamed of my weakness; but the more clearly I showed myself my folly, the more obstinate my heart became.

Upon my word, my imagination paints a charming picture of the calm and happy life we shall lead there! I must have been born under a lucky star!” Had he been less engrossed in his narrative, he would have heard the sound of a stifled oath in the adjoining room; and had he been less absorbed in the part he was playing, he would have observed a cloud on his companion’s brow. The baron was a keen observer, and he had detected a false ring in this apparently vehement outburst of passion. “I understand it now, my dear marquis,” said he; “you have met the descendant of some illustrious but impoverished family.” “You are wrong.

My future bride has no other name than her Christian name of Marguerite.” “It is a regular romance then!” “You are quite right; it is a romance. Were you acquainted with the Count de Chalusse, who died a few days ago?” “No; but I have often heard him spoken of.” “Well, it is his daughter whom I am about to marry--his illegitimate daughter.” The baron started. How does it happen then that his daughter, even though she be his illegitimate child, should find herself penniless?” “A mere chance--a fatality. Mademoiselle Marguerite had been abandoned by her mother when only five or six months old; it is only a few years since M. The count told me the whole story, without entering into particulars--you understand. Being an honest woman, she resisted the count’s advances for awhile--a very little while; but in less than a year after her husband’s departure, she gave birth to a pretty little daughter, Mademoiselle Marguerite. But then why had the husband gone to America?” “Yes,” faltered the baron; “why--why, indeed?” “Everything was progressing finely, when M. de Chalusse was in his turn obliged to start for Germany, having been informed that a sister of his, who had fled from the paternal roof with nobody knows who, had been seen there. He had been absent some four months or so, when one morning the post brought him a letter from his pretty mistress, who wrote: ‘We are lost!

On hearing of her husband’s return, the young wife had lost her head. She had but one thought--to conceal her fault, at any cost; and one night, being completely disguised, she left her child on a doorstep in the vicinity of the central markets----” The marquis suddenly paused in his story to exclaim: “Why, what is the matter with you, my dear baron? What is the matter? Shall I ring?” The baron was as pale as if the last drop of blood had been drawn from his veins, and there were dark purple circles about his eyes. “The husband was incontestably an artless fellow: but he was also, it appears, a man of remarkable energy and determination. Having somehow ascertained that his wife had given birth to a child in his absence, he moved heaven and earth not only to discover the child, but its father also. He had sworn to kill them both; and he was a man to keep his vow unmoved by a thought of the guillotine. And if you require a proof of his strength of character, here it is: He said nothing to his wife on the subject, he did not utter a single reproach; he treated her exactly as he had done before his absence.

But he watched her, or employed others to watch her, both day and night, convinced that she would finally commit some act of imprudence which would give him the clue he wanted. de Chalusse, thus saving his life.” It is not at all remarkable that the Marquis de Valorsay should have failed to see any connection between his narrative and the baron’s agitation. What possible connection could there be between opulent Baron Trigault and the poor devil who went to seek his fortune in America?

What imaginable connection could there be between the confirmed gambler, who was Kami-Bey’s companion, Lia d’Argeles’s friend, and the husband who for ten long years had pursued the man who, by seducing his wife, had robbed him of all the happiness of life? Another point that would have dispelled any suspicions on the marquis’s part was that he had found the baron greatly agitated on arriving, and that he now seemed to be gradually regaining his composure. It is the perfection of good taste and high breeding--“proper form,” indeed, not to be astonished or moved by anything, in fact to sneer at everything, and hold one’s self quite above the emotions which disturb the minds of plebeians. Thus the marquis continued: “I am necessarily compelled to omit many particulars, my dear baron. The count was not very explicit when he reached this part of his story; but, in spite of his reticence, I learned that he had been tricked in his turn, that certain papers had been stolen from him, and that he had been defrauded in many ways by his inamorata. de Chalusse’s whole life was haunted by the thought of the husband he had wronged. If he went out alone in the evening, which was an exceedingly rare occurrence, he turned the street corners with infinite caution; it seemed to him that he could always see the gleam of a poniard or a pistol in the shade.

I should never have believed in this constant terror on the part of a really brave man, if he had not confessed it to me with his own lips. Ten or twelve years passed before he dared to make the slightest attempt to find his daughter, so much did he fear to arouse his enemy’s attention. It was not until he had discovered that the husband had become discouraged and had discontinued his search, that the count began his. It was a long and arduous one, but at last it succeeded, thanks to the assistance of a clever scoundrel named Fortunat.” The baron with difficulty repressed a movement of eager curiosity, and remarked: “What a peculiar name!” “And his first name is Isidore. he’s a smooth-tongued scoundrel, a rascal of the most dangerous kind, who richly deserves to be in jail. How it is that he is allowed to prosecute his dishonorable calling I can’t understand; but it is none the less true that he does follow it, and without the slightest attempt at concealment, at an office he has on the Place de la Bourse.” This name and address were engraved upon the baron’s memory, never to be effaced. de Valorsay, “the poor count was fated to have no peace. The husband had scarcely ceased to torment him, he had scarcely begun to breathe freely, when the wife attacked him in her turn. She must have been one of those vile and despicable women who make a man hate the entire sex.

Pretending that the count had turned her from the path of duty, and destroyed her life and happiness, she lost no opportunity of tormenting him. de Chalusse to keep the child with him, nor would she consent to his adopting the girl.

She declared it an act of imprudence, which would surely set her husband upon the track, sooner or later.

And when the count announced his intention of legally adopting the child, in spite of her protests, she declared that, rather than allow it, she would confess everything to her husband.” “The count was a patient man,” sneered the baron. There must have been some great crime under all this. In any case, the poor count found it impossible to escape this terrible woman. During the last few months of his life he obtained peace--that is to say, he bought it. This lady’s husband must either be very poor or exceedingly stingy; and as she was exceedingly fond of luxury, M. de Chalusse effected a compromise by giving her a large sum monthly, and also by paying her dress-maker’s bills.” The baron sprang to his feet with a passionate exclamation. “The vile wretch!” he said.

But he quickly reseated himself, and the exclamation astonished M. de Valorsay so little that he quietly concluded by saying: “And this is the reason, baron, why my beloved Marguerite, the future Marquise de Valorsay, has no dowry.” The baron cast a look of positive anguish at the door of the smoking-room. He had heard a slight movement there; and he trembled with fear lest Pascal, maddened with anger and jealousy, should rush in and throw himself upon the marquis. The baron’s own powers of self-control and dissimulation were almost exhausted, and so postponing until another time the many questions he still wished to ask M. de Valorsay, he made haste to check these confidential disclosures.

He assumed the right to be brutal, ill-bred, cynical and bold; to be one of those persons who declare that folks must take them as they find them. But his rudeness now was so thoroughly offensive that under any other circumstances the marquis would have resented it. “Yes, these stories always end in the same way, baron,” said he. I have arrived at the object of my visit now.” As Baron Trigault was supposed to enjoy an income of at least eight hundred thousand francs a year, he received in the course of a twelvemonth at least a million applications for money or help, and for this reason he had not an equal for detecting a coming appeal. “Good heavens!” he thought, “Valorsay is going to ask me for money.” In fact, he felt certain that the marquis’s pretended carelessness concealed real embarrassment, and that it was difficult for him to find the words he wanted.

And now the wedding gifts, the two fetes that I propose giving, the repairs at Valorsay, and the honeymoon with my wife--all these things will cost a nice little sum.” “A nice little sum, indeed!” “Ah, well! The matter was worrying me a little, when I thought of you.

I said to myself: ‘The baron, who always has money at his disposal, will no doubt let me have the use of five thousand louis for a year.’” The baron’s eyes were fixed upon his companion’s face.

“Zounds!” he exclaimed in a half-grieved, half-petulant tone; “I haven’t the amount!” It was not disappointment that showed itself on the marquis’s face; it was absolute despair, quickly concealed. But the baron had detected it; and he realized his applicant’s urgent need. But I shall have it within forty-eight hours; and if you are at home at this time on the day after to-morrow, I will send you one of my agents, who will arrange the matter with you.” A moment before, the marquis had allowed his consternation to show itself; but this time he knew how to conceal the joy that filled his soul.

So it was in the most indifferent manner, as if the affair were one of trivial importance, that he thanked the baron for being so obliging. Plainly enough, he now longed to make his escape, and indeed, after rattling off a few commonplace remarks, he rose to his feet and took his leave, exclaiming: “Till the day after to-morrow, then!” The baron sank into an arm-chair, completely overcome. A martyr to a passion that was stronger than reason itself, the victim of a fatal love which he had not been able to drive from his heart, Baron Trigault had passed many terrible hours, but never had he been so completely crushed as at this moment when chance revealed the secret which he had vainly pursued for years. The old wounds in his heart opened afresh, and his sufferings were poignant beyond description. All his efforts to save this woman whom he at once loved and hated from the depths of degradation, had proved unavailing. “And she has extorted money from the Count de Chalusse,” he thought; “she sold him the right to adopt their own daughter.” And so strange are the workings of the human heart, that this circumstance, trivial in comparison with many others, drove the unfortunate baron almost frantic with rage. What did it avail him that he had become one of the richest men in Paris? “What can she do with it all?” muttered the baron, overcome with sorrow and indignation.

“How can she succeed in spending the income of several millions?” A name, the name of Ferdinand de Coralth, rose to his lips; but he did not pronounce it. He saw Pascal emerging from the smoking-room; and though he had forgotten the young advocate’s very existence, his appearance now restored him to a consciousness of reality. de Valorsay?” continued the baron. “Now we know, beyond the possibility of doubt, who Mademoiselle Marguerite’s mother is. Upon the Count de Chalusse? Yes, I might do so; but I lack the courage--Mademoiselle Marguerite remains.” “But she is innocent, monsieur; she has never wronged you.” The baron did not seem to hear this exclamation.

“And to make Mademoiselle Marguerite’s life one long misery,” said he, “I need only favor her marriage with the marquis. Ah, he would make her cruelly expiate the crime of her birth.” “But you won’t do so!” cried Pascal, in a transport, “it would be shameful; I won’t allow it. He may perhaps vanquish me in the coming struggle; he may lead her to the threshold of the church, but there he will find me--armed--and I will have justice--human justice in default of legal satisfaction.

And, afterward, the law may take its course!” The baron looked at him with deep emotion. “Ah, you know what it is to love!” he exclaimed; and in a hollow voice, he added: “and thus it was that I loved Marguerite’s mother.” The breakfast-table had not been cleared, and a large decanter of water was still standing on it. The baron poured out two large glasses, which he drained with feverish avidity, and then he began to walk aimlessly about the room. It seemed to him that his own destiny was being decided in this man’s mind, that his whole future depended upon the determination he arrived at.

A prisoner awaiting the verdict of the jury could not have suffered more intense anxiety. At last, when a minute, which seemed a century, had elapsed, the baron paused. Honest people ought to protect and assist one another when scoundrels assail them. We will unmask Coralth, and we will crush Valorsay if we find that he is really the instigator of the infamous plot that ruined you.” “What, monsieur!

Can you doubt it after your conversation with him?” The baron shook his head. “I am certain that my hundred thousand francs will be lost forever if I lend them to him. I would be willing to swear that he bet against his own horse and prevented the animal from winning, as he is accused of doing.” “You must see, then--” “Excuse me--all this does NOT explain the great discrepancy between your allegations and his story. You assure me that he cares nothing whatever for Mademoiselle Marguerite; he pretends that he adores her.” “Yes, monsieur, yes--the scoundrel dared to say so. Still, if he is telling the truth, it is impossible to explain the foul conspiracy you have suffered by.” This objection had previously presented itself to Pascal’s mind, and he had found an explanation which seemed to him a plausible one. de Valorsay decided on this plan of ridding themselves of me. Consequently, Mademoiselle Marguerite was still an heiress.” “That’s true; but the very day after the commission of the crime, the accomplices must have discovered that it could do them no good; so, why have they still persisted in their scheme?” Pascal tried to find a satisfactory answer, but failed. “There must be some iniquitous mystery in this affair, which neither you nor I suspect,” remarked the baron. “That is exactly what my mother told me.” “Ah! Then it is a good one.

Mademoiselle Marguerite loved you, you say?” “Yes.” “And she has suddenly broken off the engagement?” “She wrote to me that the Count de Chalusse extorted from her a promise on his death-bed, that she would marry the Marquis de Valorsay.” The baron sprang to his feet.

We now have a clue to the truth, perhaps. de Chalusse commanded her to marry the marquis! Then the count must have been fully restored to consciousness before he breathed his last. On the other hand, Valorsay pretends that Mademoiselle Marguerite is left without resources, simply because the count died too suddenly to be able to write or to sign a couple of lines. Can you reconcile these two versions of the affair, M. Then which version is false? She is undoubtedly watched, so don’t write on any account.” He reflected for a moment, and then added: “We shall, perhaps, become morally certain of Valorsay’s and Coralth’s guilt, but there’s a wide difference between this and the establishment of their guilt by material proofs. where shall we find them? The best plan would be to find some man devoted to our interests who would watch him, and insinuate himself into his confidence.” Pascal interrupted the baron with an eager gesture.

de Valorsay should be watched by a man of quick perception--a man clever enough to make himself useful to the marquis, and capable of rendering him an important service in case of need. I will be the man, monsieur, if you will allow me. The thought occurred to me just now while I was listening to you. I entreat you to allow me to take the place of the man you intended to send. The marquis doesn’t know me, and I am sufficiently sure of myself to promise you that I will not betray my identity. I shall take him money or fair promises, I shall be well received, and I have a plan----” He was interrupted by a rap at the door. The next moment a footman entered, and informed his master that a messenger wished to speak to him on urgent business. “Let him come in,” said the baron. It was Job, Madame Lia d’Argeles’s confidential servant, who entered the room.

He bowed respectfully, and, with an air of profound mystery exclaimed: “I have been looking for the baron everywhere. His anxiety might explain the mistake, but it did not justify it.

He felt certain, that under any other circumstances he would not have been dismissed so cavalierly. He would at least have been allowed to develop his proposals, and then who knows what might have happened? But the races had interfered with his plans. Wilkie had been compelled to attend to Pompier de Nanterre, that famous steeplechaser, of which he owned one-third part, and he had, moreover, to give orders to the jockey, whose lord and master he was to an equal extent. These were sacred duties, since Wilkie’s share in a race-horse constituted his only claim to a footing in fashionable society. But it was a strong claim--a claim that justified the display of whips and spurs that decorated his apartments in the Rue du Helder, and allowed him to aspire to the character of a sporting man.

Wilkie really imagined that folks were waiting for him at Vincennes; and that the fete would not be complete without his presence. Still, when he presented himself inside the enclosure, a cigar in his mouth, and his racing card dangling from his button-hole, he was obliged to confess that his entrance did not create much of a sensation. An astonishing bit of news had imparted unusual excitement to the ring. People were eagerly discussing the Marquis de Valorsay’s sudden determination to pay forfeit and withdraw his horses from the contest; and the best informed declared that in the betting-rooms the evening before he had openly announced his intention of selling his racing stable. If the marquis had hoped that by adopting this course he would silence the suspicions which had been aroused, he was doomed to grievous disappointment. The rumor that he had secretly bet against his own horse, Domingo, on the previous Sunday, and that he had given orders not to let the animal win the race, was steadily gaining credence. He had been the favorite in the betting ring and the losers were by no means pleased. Some declared that they had seen the jockey hold Domingo back; and they insisted that it was necessary to make an example, and disqualify both the marquis and his jockey.

de Valorsay’s favor--his fortune, or, at least, the fortune he was supposed to possess.

He is a perfect gentleman.” “Perhaps so,” replied the skeptical bystanders. “But people said exactly the same of Croisenois, of the Duc de H., and Baron P., who were finally convicted of the same rascality that Valorsay is accused of.” “It’s an infamous slander! He would have let Domingo come in second, not third!” “If he were not guilty, and afraid of detection, he wouldn’t pay forfeit to-day nor sell his horses.” “He only retires from the turf because he’s going to marry----” “Nonsense! That’s no reason whatever.” Like all gamblers, the frequenters of the turf are distrustful and inclined to be quarrelsome. No one is above their suspicions when they lose nor above their wrath when they are duped. And this Domingo affair united all the losers against Valorsay; they formed a little battalion of enemies who were no doubt powerless for the time being, but who were ready to take a startling revenge whenever a good opportunity presented itself. Wilkie sided with the marquis, whom he had heard his friend, M.

“Accuse the dear marquis!” he exclaimed. de Valorsay had said nothing of the kind, for the very good reason that he did not even know Wilkie by sight; still, no one paid much heed to the assertion, whereat Wilkie felt vexed, and resolved to turn his attention to his jockey. The latter was a lazy, worthless fellow, who had been dismissed from every stable he had previously served in, and who swindled and robbed the young gentlemen who employed him without either limit or shame. Although he made them pay him a very high salary--something like eight thousand francs a year--on the plea that it was most repugnant to his feelings to act as a groom, trainer, and jockey at the same time, he regularly every month presented them with fabulous bills from the grain merchant, the veterinary surgeon, and the harness-maker. In addition, he regularly sold Pompier’s oats in order to obtain liquor, and in fact the poor animal was so nearly starved that he could scarcely stand on his legs. The jockey ascribed the horse’s extreme thinness to a system of rigorous training; and the owners did not question the statement in the least. He had made them believe, and they in turn had made many others believe, that Pompier de Nanterre would certainly win such and such a race; and, trusting in this fallacious promise, they risked their money on the poor animal--and lost it. In point of fact, this jockey would have been the happiest mortal in the world if such things as steeple-chases had never existed. In the first place, he judged, with no little reason, that it was dangerous to leap hurdles on such an animal as Pompier; and, secondly, nothing irritated him so much as to be obliged to promenade with his three employers in turn.

But how could he refuse, since he knew that if these young men hired him, it was chiefly, or only in view of, displaying themselves in his company. It afforded them untold satisfaction to walk to and fro along the course in front of the grand stand, with their jockey in his orange jacket with green sleeves. They were firmly convinced that he reflected enormous credit upon them, and their hearts swelled with joy at the thought of the envy they no doubt inspired. This conviction gave rise indeed to terrible quarrels, in which each of the three owners was wont to accuse the others of monopolizing the jockey. Wilkie--being fortunate enough to arrive the first--immediately repaired to Pompier de Nanterre’s stall. Never had circumstances been more favorable for a display of the animal’s speed.

The day was magnificent; the stands were crowded, and thousands of eager spectators were pushing and jostling one another beyond the ropes which limited the course. And how great his delight was when, as he passed through the crowd, he heard people exclaim: “That gentleman has a racing stable.

His horses are going to compete!” What bliss thrilled his heart when he overheard the admiring exclamation of some worthy shopkeeper who was greatly impressed by the gay silk jacket and the top-boots! His partners arrived, and claimed the jockey in their turn.

Wilkie left the course and strolled about among the carriages, until at last he found an equipage which was occupied by the young ladies who had accepted his invitation to supper the evening before, and who were now making a profuse display of the very yellowest hair they possessed. This afforded him another opportunity of attracting public attention, and to giving proofs of his “form,” for he had not filled the box of his carriage with champagne for nothing. At last the decisive moment came, and he made himself conspicuous by shouting. poor Pompier de Nanterre fell exhausted before half the distance was accomplished; and that evening Wilkie described his defeat, with a profusion of technical terms that inspired the uninitiated with the deepest awe.

The ring was intensely excited--and I was simply crazed.” However, his defeat did not affect him very deeply. It was forgotten at thought of the inheritance which his friend Coralth had spoken to him about. de Coralth would tell him the secret. He saw himself the possessor of a magnificent stud, of sufficient wealth to gratify every fancy; he would splash mud upon all the passers-by, and especially upon his former acquaintances, as he dashed past them in his superb equipage; the best tailor should invent astonishing garments for him; he would make himself conspicuous at all the first performances in a stage-box, with the most notorious women in Paris; his fetes would be described in the papers; he would be the continual subject of comment; he would be credited with splendid, perfect “form.” It is true that M. The viscount was not merely his model, but his oracle as well. By the way in which he spoke of him, it might have been supposed that they had been friends from their childhood, or, at least, that they had known each other for years. Such was not the case, however. Their acquaintance dated only seven or eight months back, and their first meeting had apparently been the result of chance; though it is needless to say, perhaps, that this chance had been carefully prepared by M. Having discovered Madame Lia d’Argeles’s secret, the viscount watched Wilkie, ascertained where he spent his evenings, contrived a way of introducing himself into his society, and on their third meeting was skilful enough to render him a service--in other words, to lend him some money.

From that moment the conquest was assured; for M. de Coralth possessed in an eminent degree all the attributes that were likely to dazzle and charm the gifted owner of Pompier de Nanterre. First of all, there was his title, then his impudent assurance and his apparent wealth, and last, but by no means least, his numerous and fashionable acquaintances. Wilkie an inkling of the truth, he succeeded in obtaining from him as accurate a knowledge of his past career as the young fellow himself possessed.

His earliest recollection was of the ocean. The French language was certainly not the first he had learned, for he still remembered a limited number of English phrases. The English word “father” was among those that lingered in his memory; and now, after a lapse of twenty years, he pronounced it without the least foreign accent. But while he remembered the word perfectly well, no recollection remained to him of the person he had called by that name. He recollected, and very distinctly too, how on one long winter night, a woman had dragged him after her through the streets of Paris, in an icy rain. And then the poor woman who held him by the hand lifted him in her arms and carried him on--on, until her own strength failed, and she was obliged to set him on the ground again. A vague portrait of this woman, who was most probably his mother, still lingered in his memory. He had been particularly impressed with the pale tint and profusion of her beautiful hair. Their poverty had not lasted long. He remembered being installed with his mother in a very handsome suite of rooms.

The visitor held a long conference with his mother, or, at least, with the person whom he called by that name. He did not understand what they were talking about, but he was none the less very uneasy. The result of the interview must have justified his instinctive fear, for his mother took him on her lap, and embraced him with convulsive tenderness. Give me courage, my God!” Those were the exact words; Wilkie was sure on that point. The stranger took him in his arms and carried him away, in spite of his cries and struggles to escape. This person to whose care he was confined was the master of a small boarding-school, and his wife was the kindest and most patient of women. However, this did not prevent Wilkie from crying and begging for his mother at first; but gradually he forgot her.

He was not unhappy, for he was petted and indulged more than any of the other pupils, and he spent most of his time playing on the terrace or wandering about the garden. According to his calculation, he was just ten years old when, one Sunday, toward the end of October, a grave-looking, red-whiskered gentleman, clad in solemn black with a white necktie, presented himself at the school, and declared that he had been instructed by Wilkie’s relatives to place him in a college to continue his education. Young Wilkie’s lamentations were long and loud; but they did not prevent M. Patterson--for that was the gentleman’s name--from taking him to the college of Louis-the-Great, where he was entered as a boarder. As he did not study, and as he was only endowed with a small amount of intelligence, he learned scarcely anything during the years he remained there. Patterson made his appearance at ten o’clock precisely, took Wilkie for a walk in Paris or the environs, gave him his breakfast and dinner at some of the best restaurants, bought everything he expressed a desire to have, and at nine o’clock precisely took him back to the college again.

During the holidays M.

Patterson kept the boy with him, refusing him nothing in the way of pleasure, granting all his wishes, but never losing sight of him for a moment. Patterson always replied, “I must obey orders;” and this answer invariably put an end to the discussion. He placed his charge in a private school; and the following year, at a cost of five thousand francs, he beguiled a poor devil into running the risk of three years’ imprisonment, by assuming M. Wilkie’s name, and passing the examination in his place.

In possession of the precious diploma which opens the door of every career, M.

Wilkie now hoped that his pockets would be filled, and that he would then be set at liberty. But the hope was vain! Patterson placed him in the hands of an old tutor who had been engaged to travel with him through Europe; and as this tutor held the purse-strings, Wilkie was obliged to follow him through Germany, England, and Italy. When he returned to Paris he was just twenty years old, and the very next day M. Patterson conducted him to the suite of rooms which he still occupied in the Rue du Helder.

If I were in your place, I should obey them. The allowance which is granted you, a far too liberal one in my opinion, may be cut off at any moment. But at all events until then. Here is the amount for the first quarter, and in three months’ time I shall send you a similar amount. I say ‘shall SEND,’ because my business compels me to return to England, and take up my abode there. Now, my duty being fulfilled, farewell.” “Go to the devil, you old preacher!” growled Wilkie, as he saw the door close on the retreating figure of M.

Patterson’s wise advice lingered in the young fellow’s mind.

To use a familiar expression, “It went in through one ear and came out through the other.” Only two facts had made an impression upon him: that he was to be his own master henceforth, and that he had a fortune at his command. There it lay upon the table, five thousand francs in glittering gold. Wilkie had taken the trouble to attentively examine the rooms which had suddenly become his own, he would perhaps have recognized the fact that a loving hand had prepared them for his reception. Countless details revealed the delicate taste of a woman, and the thoughtful tenderness of a mother. There was a box of choice cigars upon the table, and a jar of tobacco on the mantel-shelf. He hastily slipped five hundred francs into his pocket, locked the rest of his money in a drawer, and went out with as lofty an air as if all Paris belonged to him, or as if he had enough money to purchase it. He found two of them; and, although it was very wounding to his self-love, M. Wilkie was obliged to confess to them that this was his first taste of liberty, and that he scarcely knew what to do with himself.

Of course his friends assured him that they could quickly make him acquainted with the only life that it was worth while living; and, to prove it, they accepted the invitation to dinner which he immediately offered them. Other acquaintances dropped in, the wine flowed in rivers; and after dinner they danced. Wilkie found himself without a penny in his pocket, and face to face with a bill of four hundred francs, for which amount he was obliged to go to his rooms, under the escort of one of the waiters.

He felt quite in his element in the society of dissipated young men and enamelled women. He swore that he would win a place in their midst, and an influential place too. But it was easier to form this plan than to carry it into execution, as he discovered when, at the end of the month, he counted his money to see what remained of the five thousand francs that had been given him for his quarterly allowance. Twenty thousand francs a year represents about sixty francs a day; but what are sixty francs to a high liver, who breakfasts and dines at the best restaurants, whose clothes are designed by an illustrious tailor, who declines to make a pair of trousers for less than a hundred francs? What are three louis a day to a man who hires a box for first performances at the opera, to a man who gambles and gives expensive suppers, to a man who drives out with yellow-haired demoiselles, and who owns a race-horse? “How do other people manage?” he wondered. Every evening a thousand gorgeously apparelled gentlemen, with a cigar in their mouth and a flower in their button-hole, may be seen promenading between the Chaussee d’Antin and the Faubourg Montmartre.

Everybody knows them, and they know everybody, but how they exist is a problem which it is impossible to solve.

How do they live, and what do they live on? Everybody knows that they have no property; they do nothing, and yet they are reckless in their expenditures, and rail at work and jeer at economy. What source do they derive their money from? What vile business are they engaged in? “Not I--I’m not that sort of a person, as I’ll soon let them know.” And thereupon he wrote to M. By return of post that gentleman sent him a cheque for one thousand francs--a mere drop in the bucket.

The interesting young man threw the letter into the fire, and went out to hire a carriage by the month and a servant. He employed in quick succession every pretext that could soften the hearts of obdurate relatives, or find the way to the most closely guarded cash-box. And in accordance with the favorable or unfavorable character of the replies his manner became humble or impertinent, so that his friends soon learned to judge very accurately of the condition of his purse by the way he wore his mustaches. He became wise with experience, however; and on adding all the sums he had received together, he decided that his family must be very rich to allow him so much money. And this thought made him anxious to fathom the mystery of his birth and his infancy. He finally persuaded himself that he was the son of a great English nobleman--a member of the House of Lords, who was twenty times a millionaire. And he more than half believed it when he told his creditors that his lordship, his father, would some day or other come to Paris and pay all his debts. Wilkie’s noble father that arrived, but a letter from M. Patterson, which was couched as follows: “MY DEAR SIR, a considerable sum was placed in my hands to meet your unexpected requirements; and in compliance with your repeated appeals, I have remitted the entire amount to you. Spare yourself the trouble of making any fresh demands; they will meet with no reply.

His creditors were becoming uneasy; bills actually rained in upon his concierge; his next quarterly allowance was not due for some time to come, and it was only through the pawnbroker that he could obtain money for his more pressing requirements. He saw himself reduced to dismissing his carriage, to selling his third share of Pompier de Nanterre and losing the esteem of all his witty friends. He was in the depths of despair, when one morning his servant woke him up with the announcement that the Viscount de Coralth was in the sitting-room and wished to speak with him on very important business. Wilkie from his bed, but the name his servant mentioned seemed to have a prodigious effect upon him. He bounded on to the floor, and as he hastily dressed himself, he muttered: “The viscount here, at this hour! de Coralth never went to bed until two or three o’clock in the morning, he was by no means an early riser, and only some very powerful reason could explain the presence of his blue-lined brougham in the street before nine o’clock A.M. And the influence that had made him rise betimes in the present case had indeed been extremely powerful. Although the brilliant viscount had discovered Madame d’Argeles’s secret, several months previously, he had so far disclosed it to no one. Now, however, the sudden death of the Count de Chalusse changed the situation. He heard of the catastrophe at his club on the evening after the count’s death, and his emotion was so great that he actually declined to take part in a game of baccarat that was just beginning.

“The devil!” he exclaimed. Madame d’Argeles is the heiress of all these millions--will she come forward and claim them? She would rather relinquish her millions, both for herself and for him, than take such a step. She is so ridiculously antiquated in her notions.” And then he began to study what advantages he might derive from his knowledge of the situation. Just now he was cunning enough to find a means of procuring the thirty or forty thousand francs a year that were indispensable to his comfort; but he had not a farthing laid by, and the vein of silver he was now working might fail him at any moment. The slightest indiscretion, the least blunder, might hurl him from his splendor into the mire. The perspiration started out on his forehead when he thought of his peril.

He passionately longed for a more assured position--for a little capital that would insure him his bread until the end of his days, and rid him of the grim phantom of poverty forever. And it was this desire which inspired him with the same plan that M. “If I present him with a fortune, the simpleton ought certainly to give me some reward.” But to carry this plan into execution it would be necessary to brave Madame d’Argeles’s anger; and that was attended by no little danger. Still, after weighing all the advantages and all the dangers, he decided to act, convinced that Madame d’Argeles might be kept ignorant of his treason, providing he only played his cards skilfully. Wilkie was caused by a fear that he might not be the only person knowing the truth, and that some one else might forestall him. “You here, at sunrise, my friend!” exclaimed Wilkie, as he entered the room where the viscount was seated. “What has happened?” “To me?--nothing,” replied the viscount. I have only some good news to communicate,” and in a careless tone which cleverly concealed his anxiety, the viscount added: “I have come, my dear Wilkie, to ask you what you would be willing to give the man who put you in possession of a fortune of several millions?” M.

“Never in all my life have I spoken more seriously,” insisted the viscount. It was easy to divine the conflict that was raging in his mind, between the hope that the news was true and the fear of being made the victim of a practical joke. This is scarcely the time to talk of millions. My relatives have cut off my supplies; and my creditors are overwhelming me with their bills----” But M. What would you give a man who--” “I would give him half of the fortune he gave me.” “That’s too much!” “No, no!” He was in earnest, certainly. It is afterward, when the day of settlement comes, that people begin to find fault with the rate of interest. “If I tell you that one-half is too much, it is because such is really the case. And I am the best judge of the matter, since I am the man who can put you in possession of this enormous fortune.” M. “This astonishes you!” said the viscount; “and why, pray?

In the afternoon, when I am in a restaurant, at the club, or in a lady’s boudoir, I am merely the viscount and the grand seigneur. But in the morning I am simply Coralth, a man of the middle classes who doesn’t pay his bills without examining them, and who watches his money, because he doesn’t wish to be ruined and end his brilliant career as a common soldier in some foreign legion.” M. Do you wish for it all?” But the viscount was unmoved. “It is not fitting that I should fix upon the indemnity which is due to me. I will consult a man of business; and I will decide upon this point on the day after to-morrow, when I shall explain everything to you.” “On the day after to-morrow! Some agents, when they obtain a hold on an estate, leave nothing for the rightful owner. Ferdinand de Coralth one-half of the inheritance which the aforesaid Coralth might prove him to be entitled to. The viscount read the document, placed it in his pocket, and then said, as he took up his hat: “Very well. “If you are speaking the truth, I shall soon be rich,” said he.

“But, in the meantime, life is hard. I have a horse entered for the race to-morrow, Pompier de Nanterre. You know the animal very well. The chances are enormously in his favor.

So, if it wouldn’t inconvenience you to lend me fifty louis.” “Certainly,” interrupted the viscount, cordially. “Certainly; with the greatest pleasure.” And drawing a beautiful little notebook from his pocket he took from it not one, but two bank-notes of a thousand francs, and handed them to M. But it was impossible for the viscount to act otherwise. He had not seen the Marquis de Valorsay since the Count de Chalusse’s death and he dared not conclude the contract with Wilkie before he had conferred with him, for he was completely in the marquis’s power. At the least suspicion of treason, M. It was to the house of his formidable associate that he repaired on leaving M. Wilkie; and in a single breath he told the marquis all that he knew, and the plans that he had formed.

He listened quietly, and when the viscount had completed his story, he asked: “Why did you wait so long before telling me all this?” “I didn’t see how it could interest you in the least.” The marquis looked at him keenly, and then calmly said: “In other words, you were waiting to see whether it would be most advantageous to you to be with me or against me.” “How can you think----” “I don’t think, I’m sure of it. The step I am about to take----” “What, haven’t you taken it already?” interrupted the marquis, quickly. And shrugging his shoulders, he added: “Observe that I don’t reproach you in the least. Only remember this: we survive or we perish together.” By the angry gleam in M. de Coralth’s eyes, the marquis must have realized that his companion was disposed to rebel; still this knowledge did not seem to disquiet him, for it was in the same icy tone that he continued: “Besides, your plans, far from conflicting with mine, will be of service to me. Yes, Madame d’Argeles must lay claim to the count’s estate. The Fondeges think they can outwit me, but we shall soon see about that.” The viscount was watching his companion stealthily; as the latter perceived, and so in a tone of brusque cordiality, he resumed: “Excuse me for not keeping you to breakfast, but I must go out immediately--Baron Trigault is waiting for me at his house. “So we are to survive or perish together,” he growled. “Thanks for the preference you display for my society.

Is it my fault that the fool has squandered his fortune?

He at once went to inquire if the agreement which M. The lawyer whom he consulted replied that, at all events, a reasonable compensation would most probably be granted by the courts, in case of any difficulty; and he suggested a little plan which was a chef d’oeuvre in its way, at the same time advising his client to strike the iron while it was hot. It was not yet noon, and the viscount determined to act upon the suggestion at once; he now bitterly regretted the delay he had specified. But he did not succeed in meeting him until the evening, when he found him at the Cafe Riche--and in what a condition too! The two bottles of wine which the young fool had drank at dinner had gone to his head, and he was enumerating, in a loud voice, the desires he meant to gratify as soon as he came into possession of his millions.

“What a brute!” thought the enraged viscount. I must remain with him until he becomes sober again.” So he followed him to the theatre, and thence to Brebant’s, where he was sitting feeling terribly bored, when M. Wilkie conceived the unfortunate idea of inviting Victor Chupin to come up and take some refreshment. The scene which followed greatly alarmed the viscount. He did not remember having ever seen him before, and yet the young scamp was evidently well acquainted with his past life, for he had cast the name of Paul in his face, as a deadly insult.

Surely this was enough to make the viscount shudder! How did it happen that this young man had been just on the spot ready to pick up Wilkie’s hat?

Then why was the fellow there? Thus it was not strange if some one had set a snare for him; it was rather a miracle that he had not fallen into one before. The dangers that threatened him were so formidable that he was almost tempted to relinquish his attack on Madame d’Argeles. Was it prudent to incur the risk of making this woman an enemy? It would be very easy to get out of the scrape. He could concoct some story for Wilkie’s benefit, and that would be the end of it.

But on the other hand, there was the prospect of netting at least five hundred thousand francs--a fortune--a competency, and the idea was too tempting to be relinquished. “Let us say but little, and that to the point,” he remarked on entering. “The secret I am about to reveal to you will make you rich; but it might ruin me if it were known that you obtained this information through me. You will therefore swear, upon your honor as a gentleman, never to betray me, under any circumstances, or for any reason.” M. Wilkie extended his hand and solemnly exclaimed: “I swear!” “Very well, then. de Coralth; “but you must reply that you received the information through one of Mr. Now let us sign our formal contract in lieu of the temporary one you gave me the other day.” It is needless to say that Wilkie signed it eagerly. Not so the viscount; he read the document through carefully, before appending his signature, and then exclaimed: “The estate that belongs to you is that of the Count de Chalusse, your uncle.

Wilkie’s excited gestures, by the glitter in his eyes, it might have been supposed that this wonderful good fortune was too much for him, and that he was going mad.

“The Count de Chalusse my uncle! I shall have a coronet on the corner of my visiting cards.” But with a gesture M. “Yes, your mother is the sister of the Count de Chalusse, and it is through her that you are an heir to the estate. But--don’t grieve too much--there are similar misfortunes in many of our most distinguished families--circumstances--the obstinacy of parents--a love more powerful than reason----” The viscount paused, certainly he had no prejudices; but at the moment of telling this interesting young man who his mother really was, he hesitated. “Well--when your mother was a young girl, about twenty, she fled from her paternal home with a man she loved. Forsaken afterward, she found herself in the depths of poverty. Then, with a burst of laughter, he added: “Nevertheless, I think it a piece of grand good luck!” VI. “This man carries away your secret; you are lost.” A sinister voice whispered these words in Madame Lia d’Argeles’s heart when M. Isidore Fortunat, after being rudely dismissed, closed the door of her drawing-room behind him. This man had addressed her by the ancient and illustrious name of Chalusse which she had not heard for twenty years, and which she had forbidden her own lips to pronounce.

He had pretended that his regard for the Chalusse family, and the compassion aroused in his heart by the unfortunate plight of Mademoiselle Marguerite, were the only motives that has influenced him in taking this step. “If the man came here,” she murmured, “it was only because he thought he might derive some benefit from the prosecution of my claim to my poor brother’s estate. Without losing a second, she rushed downstairs, and ordered her concierge and a servant to run after the gentleman who had just left the house, and ask him to return; to tell him that she had reflected, and wished to speak to him again. They rushed out in pursuit, and she remained in the courtyard, her heart heavy with anxiety. They had made all possible haste in contrary directions, but they had seen no one in the street who at all resembled the person they were looking for. They had questioned the shopkeepers, but no one had seen him pass. And, anxious to escape the evident curiosity of her servants, she hastened back to the little boudoir where she usually spent her mornings. She had sent her trusty servant, Job, for Baron Trigault; he would probably return with the baron at any moment; and the baron would advise her.

He would know at once what was the best course for her to pursue. And so she waited for his coming in breathless anxiety; and the more she reflected, the more imminent her peril seemed, for she realized that M. Perhaps he had only suspected the truth when he presented himself at the house. He had suddenly announced the death of the Count de Chalusse; she had betrayed herself; and any doubts he might have entertained were dispelled. “If I had only been courageous enough to reply that I knew absolutely nothing about the person he spoke of. then he would have gone away convinced that he was mistaken.” But would the smooth-spoken visitor have declared that he knew everything, if he had not really penetrated the mystery of her life? He had implored her to accept the property, if not for her own sake at least for the sake of another.

This thought filled the wretched woman’s heart with despair. For the first time a terrible doubt came over her. What she had formerly regarded as a most sublime effort of maternal love, was, perhaps, even a greater crime than the first she had committed. She had given her honor as the price of her son’s happiness and prosperity. Did not the money she had lavished upon him contain every germ of corruption, misfortune, and shame? How terrible Wilkie’s grief and rage would be if he chanced to hear the truth!

he would certainly pay no heed to the extenuating circumstances; he would close his ears to all attempts at justification. He would have naught but hatred and scorn to bestow upon a mother who had fallen from the highest rank in society down to everlasting infamy. As the son of a poor, betrayed, and deserted woman, with whom I could have shared my scanty earnings, I might have looked the world proudly in the face. But where can the son of Lia d’Argeles hide his disgrace after playing the gentleman for twenty years with Lia d’Argeles’s money?” Yes, Wilkie would certainly say this if he ever learned the truth; and he would learn it--she felt sure of it. Patterson, the Viscount de Coralth, and M. She had confidence in the first two; she believed she had a hold on the third, but the fourth--Fortunat! The hours went by; and still Job did not return. What was the meaning of this delay? Had he failed to find the baron?

At last the sound of carriage-wheels in the courtyard made her start.

“He brings the baron.” Alas! And yet the honest fellow had spared neither pains nor horseflesh. He had visited every place where there was the least probability of finding the baron, and he was everywhere told that Baron Trigault had not been seen for several days. Perhaps he is there,” remarked Madame d’Argeles. “Madame knows that the baron is never at home. I did go there, however, but in vain.” This chanced to be one of three consecutive days which Baron Trigault had spent with Kami-Bey, the Turkish ambassador.

It had been agreed between them that they should play until one or the other had lost five hundred thousand francs; and, in order to prevent any waste of “precious time,” as the baron was wont to remark, they neither of them stirred from the Grand Hotel, where Kami-Bey had a suite of rooms. They ate and slept there. By some strange chance, Madame d’Argeles had not heard of this duel with bank-notes, although nothing else was talked of at the clubs; indeed, the Figaro had already published a minute description of the apartment where the contest was going on; and every evening it gave the results.

According to the latest accounts, the baron had the advantage; he had won about two hundred and eighty thousand francs. “But I will recommence the search at once.” “That is unnecessary,” replied Madame d’Argeles. “The baron will undoubtedly drop in this evening, after dinner, as usual.” She said this, and tried her best to believe it; but in her secret heart she felt that she could no longer depend upon the baron’s assistance. He is incensed with me; and who knows how long it will be before he comes again?” Still she waited, with feverish anxiety, listening breathlessly to every sound in the street, and trembling each time she heard or fancied she heard a carriage stop at the door. However, at two o’clock in the morning the baron had not made his appearance. Ruin seemed so inevitable that she no longer thought of avoiding it; she awaited it with that blind resignation displayed by Spanish women, who, when they hear the roll of thunder, fall upon their knees, convinced that lightning is about to strike their defenceless heads.

She tottered to her room, flung herself on the bed, and instantly fell asleep. Yes, she slept the heavy, leaden slumber which always follows a great mental crisis, and which falls like God’s blessing upon a tortured mind. On waking up, her first act was to ring for her maid, in order to send a message to Job, to go out again in search of the baron. But the faithful servant had divined his mistress’s wishes, and had already started off of his own accord. It was past mid-day when he returned, but his face was radiant; and it was in a triumphant voice that he announced: “Monsieur le Baron Trigault.” Madame d’Argeles sprang up, and greeted the baron with a joyful exclamation. “If you knew,” continued Madame d’Argeles, “if you only knew.” But she paused, for in spite of her own agitation, she was suddenly struck by the peculiar expression on her visitor’s face. He was standing silent and motionless in the centre of the room, and his eyes were fixed upon her with a strange, persistent stare in which she could read all the contradictory feelings which were battling for mastery in his mind--anger, hatred, pity, and forgiveness.

She had hoped that the baron would be able to alleviate her wretchedness, but it seemed as if he were fated to increase it.

“What have I done?” “You, my poor Lia--nothing!” “Then--what is it? “You know that I have been infamously duped and deceived, that the happiness of my life has been destroyed by a scoundrel who tempted the wife I so fondly loved to forget her duty, and trample her honor under foot. The man who stole my share of earthly happiness was the Count de Chalusse, your brother.” With a sudden gesture Madame d’Argeles freed her hand from the baron’s grasp, and recoiled as terrified as if she had seen a spectre rise up before her. Then with her hands extended as if to ward off the horrible apparition, she exclaimed: “O, my God!” A bitter smile curved the baron’s lips. “Isn’t your brother dead? She knew what mental agony had urged the baron to a sort of moral suicide, and led him to contract the vice in which he wasted his life and squandered, or, at least risk, his millions. As I have often told you, I was sure that my wife became a mother in my absence. I sought the child for years, hoping that through the offspring I might discover the father. The child is now a beautiful young girl.

She lives at the Hotel de Chalusse as your brother’s daughter. She is known as Mademoiselle Marguerite.” Madame d’Argeles listened, leaning against the wall for support, and trembling like a leaf. Her reason was shaken by so many repeated blows, and her son, her brother, Marguerite, Pascal Ferailleur, Coralth, Valorsay--all those whom she loved or feared, or hated--rose like spectres before her troubled brain.

The horror of the truth exceeded her most frightful apprehensions. The strangeness of the reality surpassed every flight of fancy.

And, moreover, the baron’s calmness increased her stupor. Do you remember, Lia, the day when I met you wandering through the streets of Paris--with your child in your arms--pale and half dead with fatigue, faint for want of food, homeless and penniless? How could I imagine when I rescued you that I was saving my greatest enemy’s sister from suicide--the sister of the man whom I was vainly pursuing? And yet this might not be the end, if I chose to have it otherwise. The count is dead, but I can still return him disgrace for disgrace.

What prevents me from casting ineffaceable opprobrium upon the great name of Chalusse, of which he was so proud? Think of the past you have just invoked! Who helped you then to bear your intolerable sufferings?

Don’t you remember the day when you, yourself, had determined to die by your own hand?

There was a woman who persuaded you to abandon the thought of suicide.

Then suddenly he raised her, and placed her in an arm-chair, exclaiming: “Ah!

It was foolish on my part, perhaps, and for nothing in the world would I confess it to my acquaintances, but it is none the less true. I need only hold my peace, and the daughter of M. It may, or may not, be another absurd and ridiculous fancy added to the many I have been guilty of. And why, indeed, should this poor girl be held responsible for the sins of her parents? I--I declare myself on her side against the world!” Madame d’Argeles rose, her face radiant with joy and hope. “Then perhaps we are saved!” she exclaimed. I knew when I sent for you that I should not appeal to your heart in vain!” She took hold of his hand as if to raise it to her lips; but he gently withdrew it, and inquired, with an air of astonishment: “What do you mean?” “That I have been cruelly punished for not wishing you to assist that unfortunate man who was dishonored here the other evening.” “Pascal Ferailleur?” “Yes, he is innocent. The Viscount de Coralth is a scoundrel. It was he who slipped the cards which made M.

Ferailleur win, into the pack, and he did it at the Marquis de Valorsay’s instigation.” The baron looked at Madame d’Argeles with pro-found amazement. You allowed this atrocious crime to be executed under your own roof, and under your very eyes?” “I was then ignorant of Mademoiselle Marguerite’s existence. I did not know that the young man was beloved by my brother’s daughter--I did not know--” The baron interrupted her, and exclaimed, indignantly: “Ah! It was none the less an abominable action.” She hung her head, and in a scarcely audible voice replied: “I was not free. Don’t frown--I make no attempt to excuse myself--I am only explaining the position in which I was placed. My peril is imminent; I have only confidence in you--you alone can aid me; listen!” Thereupon she hastily explained M. de Coralth’s position respecting herself, what she had been able to ascertain concerning the Marquis de Valorsay’s plans, the alarming visit she had received from M. Fortunat, his advice and insinuations, the dangers she apprehended, and her firm determination to deliver Mademoiselle Marguerite from the machinations of her enemies. Madame d’Argeles’s disclosures formed, as it were, a sequel to the confidential revelations of Pascal Ferailleur, and the involuntary confession of the Marquis de Valorsay; and the baron could no longer doubt the existence of the shameful intrigue which had been planned in view of obtaining possession of the count’s millions. And if he did not, at first, understand the motives, he at least began to discern what means had been employed.

“The wretch knows through Coralth that Madame d’Argeles is a Chalusse,” he said to himself; “and when Mademoiselle Marguerite has become his wife, he intends to oblige Madame d’Argeles to accept her brother’s estate and share it with him.” At that same moment Madame d’Argeles finished her narrative. The baron was stroking his chin, as was his usual habit when his mind was deeply exercised. “The first thing to be done,” he replied, “is to show Coralth in his real colors, and prove M. It will probably cost me a hundred thousand francs to do so, but I shall not grudge the money. I should probably spend as much or even more in play next summer; and the amount had better be spent in a good cause than in swelling the dividends of my friend Blanc, at Baden.” “But M.

“Then the name of Chalusse will be disgraced,” said she; “and Wilkie will know who his mother is.” “No.” “But----” “Ah! He will go there, of course, and then we will keep him there. Coralth certainly won’t run after him, and we shall have nothing more to fear on that score.” “Great heavens!” murmured Madame d’Argeles, “why did this idea never occur to me?” The baron had now completely recovered his composure. “As regards yourself,” said he, “the plan you ought to adopt is still more simple. Very well, then. You will sign me notes, dated some time back, to the amount of a hundred thousand francs.

On the day these notes fall due, on Monday, for instance, they will be presented for payment. You will refuse to pay them. You make no opposition, and next week we shall have flaming posters on all the walls, telling Paris that the furniture, wardrobe, cashmeres, laces, and diamonds of Madame Lia d’Argeles will be sold without reserve, at public auction, in the Rue Drouot, with the view of satisfying the claims of her creditors. You can imagine the sensation this announcement will create. I can see your friends and the frequenters of your drawing-room meeting one another in the street, and saying: ‘Ah, well! However, I shall attend the sale, and I think I shall bid.’ And, in fact, your acquaintances won’t fail to repair to the Hotel Drouot, and maybe your most intimate friends will yield to their generous impulses sufficiently to offer twenty sous for one of the dainty trifles on your etageres.” Overcome with shame, Madame d’Argeles hung her head. She had never before so keenly felt the disgrace of her situation. From the only friend she possessed--from the man who was her only hope, Baron Trigault. And what made it all the more frightful was, that he did not seem to be in the least degree conscious of the cruelty of his words.

Indeed, he continued, in a tone of bitter irony: “Of course, you will have an exhibition before the sale, and you will see all the dolls that hairdressers, milliners and fools call great ladies, come running to the show. They will come to see how a notorious woman lives, and to ascertain if there are any good bargains to be had. This is the right form. These great ladies would be delighted to display diamonds purchased at the sale of a woman of the demi monde. don’t fear--your exhibition will be visited by my wife and daughter, by the Viscountess de Bois d’Ardon, by Madame de Rochecote, her five daughters, and a great many more. Then the papers will take up the refrain; they will give an account of your financial difficulties, and tell the public what you paid for your pictures.” It was with a sort of terror-stricken curiosity that Madame d’Argeles watched the baron.

“I am ready to follow your advice,” said she, “but afterward?” “What, don’t you understand the object I have in view? I know five or six journalists; and it would be very strange if I could not convince one of them that you had died upon an hospital pallet. It will furnish the subject of a touching, and what is better, a moral article. The papers will say, ‘Another star has disappeared. This is the miserable end of all the poor wretches whose passing luxury scandalizes honest women.’” “And what will become of me?” “A respected woman, Lia. The proceeds of your sale will supply your wants and Wilkie’s for more than a year. Before that time has elapsed you will have succeeded in accumulating the necessary proofs of your identity, and then you can assert your claims and take possession of your brother’s estate.” Madame d’Argeles sprang to her feet. The baron evidently thought he must have misunderstood her. “What!” he stammered; “you will relinquish the millions that are legally yours, to the government?” “Yes--I am resolved--it must be so.” “Will you sacrifice your son’s future in this style?” “No, it isn’t in my power to do that; but Wilkie will do so, later, on, I’m sure of it.” “But this is simply folly.” A feverish agitation had now succeeded Madame d’Argeles’s torpor; there was an expression of scorn and anger on her rigid features, and her eyes, usually so dull and lifeless, fairly blazed. “It is not folly,” she exclaimed, “but vengeance!” And as the astonished baron opened his lips to question her: “Let me finish,” she said imperiously, “and then you shall judge me.

You would be frightened if you knew half the extent of his villainy. For I loved him, alas!--even to madness--loved him so much that I forgot self, family, honor, and all the most sacred duties. I loved him so madly that I was willing to follow him, while his hands were still wet with my brother’s blood.

chastisement could not fail to come, and it was terrible, like the sin. This man for whom I had abandoned everything--whom I had made my idol--do you know what he said to me the third day after my flight from home? ‘You must be more stupid than an owl to have forgotten to take your jewels.’ Yes, those were the very words he said to me, with a furious air. And then I could measure the depths of the abyss into which I had plunged. He had devoted months to the task of winning my heart, just as he would have devoted them to some business transaction. He only saw in me the fortune that I was to inherit. ‘If your parents are not monsters,’ he was always saying, ‘they will finally become reconciled to our marriage.

They will give you a handsome fortune and we will divide it. I will give you back your liberty, and then we can each of us be happy in our own way.’ It was for this reason that he wished to marry me. My father and mother had died, and he hoped to prevail upon me to claim my share of the paternal fortune. He was a coward, and he was afraid of my brother. But I took a solemn oath that he should never have a farthing of the wealth he coveted, and neither threats nor BLOWS could compel me to assert my claim. Still he has not ceased to watch my brother.

So, if I followed your advice--if I claimed possession of my brother’s fortune--my husband would instantly appear with our marriage contract in his hands, and demand everything. I would rather die of want! I would rather see Wilkie die of starvation before my very eyes!” Madame d’Argeles spoke in that tone of concentrated rage which betrays years of repressed passion and unflinching resolution. One could scarcely hope to modify her views even by the wisest and most practical advice. The baron did not even think of attempting to do so. She possessed the distinguishing characteristic of her family in a remarkable degree--that proverbial Chalusse obstinacy which Madame Vantrasson had alluded to in her conversation with M. She was silent for a moment, and then, in a firm tone she said: “Still, I will follow your advice in part, baron. But now I would dig the ground with my own hands, rather than give him a louis that came from you. This trouble has torn away the bandage that covered my eyes. But there has been cowardice and shame enough!

It shall never be said that I sacrificed the honor of a noble name and the happiness of my brother’s child to my son. I see what my duty is, and I shall do it.” The baron nodded approvingly. The code has a weapon for every just cause. Perhaps there will be a way for you to obtain and hold your fortune independent of your husband.” “Alas! I made inquiries on the subject years ago, and I was told that it would be impossible. Still, you might investigate the matter. The worst misfortune would be less intolerable than this suspense.” “I will lose no time. I will consult him.” “And what shall I do about this man Fortunat, who called upon me?” The baron reflected for a moment.

“The safest thing would be to take no action whatever at present,” he replied. “If he has any evil designs, a visit or a letter from you would only hasten them.” By the way Madame d’Argeles shook her head, it was easy to see that she had very little hope. The baron shared her opinion, but he did not think it wise or kind to discourage her. “Nonsense!” he said lightly, “luck is going to change; it is always changing.” Then as he heard the clock strike, he sprang from his arm-chair in dismay. I certainly haven’t been wasting time here, but I ought to have been at the Grand Hotel at noon.

These Turks are strange creatures. It’s true that I am now a winner to the tune of two hundred and eighty thousand francs.” He settled his hat firmly on his head, and opening the door, he added: “Good-by, my dear madame, I will soon see you again, and in the meantime don’t deviate in the least from your usual habits. Our success depends, in a great measure, upon the fancied security of our enemies!” Madame d’Argeles considered this advice so sensible that half an hour later she went out for her daily drive in the Bois, little suspecting that M. So, on this occasion, she ordered the coachman to stop near the Rue du Helder, and she reached the street just in time to betray her secret to Victor Chupin, and receive a foul insult from M. The latter’s cruel words stabbed her to the heart, and yet she tried to construe them as mere proofs of her son’s honesty of feeling--as proof of his scorn for the depraved creatures who haunt the boulevards each evening. She shivered with cold, and yet the blood that flowed in her veins seemed to her like molten lead. The physician who was summoned declared that her illness was a mere trifle, but prescribed rest and quiet. And as he was a very discerning man, he added, not without a malicious smile, that any excess is injurious--excess of pleasure as well as any other.

As it was Sunday, Madame d’Argeles was able to obey the physician, and so she closed her doors against every one, the baron excepted. Still, fearing that this seclusion might seem a little strange, she ordered her concierge to tell any visitors that she had gone into the country, and would not return until her usual reception-day. She would then be compelled to open her doors as usual. For what would the habitues of the house, who had played there every Monday for years, say if they found the doors closed?

From among all her dresses, she chose the same dark robe she had worn on the night when Pascal Ferailleur was ruined at her house; and as she was even paler than usual, she tried to conceal the fact by a prodigal use of rouge.

At ten o’clock, when the first arrivals entered the brilliantly lighted rooms, they found her seated as usual on the sofa, near the fire, with the same eternal, unchangeable smile upon her lips. There were at least forty persons in the room, and the gambling had become quite animated when the baron entered. Madame d’Argeles read in his eyes that he was the bearer of good news. For he had the impudence to come, in order to dispel any suspicions that might have been aroused anent his complicity in the card-cheating affair. The hostess’s calmness amazed him. Was she still ignorant of her brother’s death and the complications arising from it, or was she only acting a part?

He was so anxious and undecided, that instead of mingling with the groups of talkers, he at once took a seat at the card-table, whence he could watch the poor woman’s every movement. Both rooms were full, and almost everybody was engaged in play, when, shortly after midnight, a servant entered the room, whispered a few words in his mistress’s ear, and handed her a card. She took it, glanced at it, and uttered so harsh, so terrible, so heart-broken a cry, that several of the guests sprang to their feet. What is it?” they asked.

One curious guest, without a thought of harm, tried to take the card, which she still held in her clinched hand; but she repulsed him with such an imperious gesture that he recoiled in terror. What is the matter with her?” was the astonished query on every side. At last, with a terrible effort, she managed to reply, “Nothing.” And then, after clinging for a moment to the mantel-shelf, in order to steady herself, she tottered out of the room. Wilkie the secret of his birth. He must be taught how to utilize the knowledge. The Viscount de Coralth devoted himself to this task, and burdened Wilkie with such a host of injunctions, that it was quite evident he had but a poor opinion of his pupil’s sagacity.

The Viscount spent at least an hour in giving explanations and advice, to the great disgust of M. He then rose to depart. “I’ve traced the plan--you must execute it, and keep cool, or the game’s lost.” His companion rose proudly. “Lose no time.” “There’s no danger of that.” “And understand, that whatever happens, my name is not to be mentioned.” “Yes, yes.” “If there should be any new revelations, I will inform you.” “At the club?” “Yes, but don’t be uneasy; the affair is as good as concluded.” “I hope so, indeed.” Wilkie gave a sigh of relief as he saw his visitor depart. He wished to be alone, so as to brood over the delights that the future had in store for him. He seemed to see them, to hold them, to feel them gliding in golden waves between his fingers! de Coralth’s eyes put the finishing touch to his bliss. The reputation that Madame d’Argeles bore had at first cast a shadow over his joy; but this shadow had soon vanished. He was troubled by no foolish prejudices, and personally he cared little or nothing for his mother’s reputation.

The prejudices of society must, of course, be considered. society has no prejudices nowadays when millionaires are concerned, and asks no questions respecting their parents. Society only requires passports of the indigent. Besides, no matter what Madame d’Argeles might have done, she was none the less a Chalusse, the descendant of one of the most aristocratic families in France. He had been quite shocked by the suggestion that Madame d’Argeles might try to deny him, and he wished to appear before her in the most advantageous light. He cast a last admiring glance at himself in the mirror, twirled his mustaches, and departed on his mission. The aspect of the Hotel d’Argeles, in the Rue de Berry, impressed him favorably, but, at the same time, it somewhat disturbed his superb assurance. A couple of servants--the concierge and Job--were standing at the door engaged in conversation. Wilkie approached them, and in his most imposing manner, but not without a slight tremble in his voice, requested to see Madame d’Argeles. “Madame is in the country,” replied the concierge; “she will not return before this evening.

I shall be passing again.” This, too, was in obedience to the instructions of M. de Coralth, who had advised him not to send in his name, but to gain admission into Madame d’Argeles’s presence as speedily as possible, without giving her time to prepare herself for the interview; and Wilkie had ultimately decided that these precautions might not prove as superfluous as he had at first supposed.

how should he kill time till the evening? He hired it for a drive to the Bois, whence he returned to the boulevards, played a game of billiards with one of the co-proprietors of Pompier de Nanterre, and finally dined at the Cafe Riche, devoting as much time as possible to the operation. He was finishing his coffee when the clock struck eight. He caught up his hat, drew on his gloves, and hastened to the Hotel d’Argeles again. “Madame has not yet returned,” said the concierge, who knew that his mistress had only just risen from her bed, “but I don’t think it will be long. Wilkie brusquely, and he was going off in a furious passion, when, on crossing the street, he chanced to turn his head and notice that the reception rooms were brilliantly lighted up. I think that a very shabby trick!” grumbled the intelligent youth. “They won’t succeed in playing that game on me again. Why, she’s there now!” It occurred to him that Madame d’Argeles had perhaps described him to her servants, and had given them strict orders not to admit him. “I’ll find out if that is the case, even if I have to wait here until to-morrow morning,” he thought, angrily.

However, he had not been on guard very long, when he saw a brougham stop in front of the mansion, whereupon the gate opened, as if by enchantment. The vehicle entered the courtyard, deposited its occupants, and drove away. A second carriage soon appeared, then a third, and then five or six in quick succession. “And does she think I’ll wear out my shoe-leather here, while everybody else is allowed to enter?” he grumbled. “Never!--I’ve an idea.” And, without giving himself time for further deliberation, he returned to his rooms, arrayed himself in evening-dress, and sent for his carriage. “You will drive to No.--in the Rue de Berry,” he said. “There is a soiree there, and you can drive directly into the courtyard.” The coachman obeyed, and M. As soon as he alighted, the doors were thrown open, and he ascended a handsome staircase, heavily carpeted, and adorned with flowers.

Two liveried footmen were standing at the door of the drawing-room, and one of them advanced to relieve Wilkie of his overcoat, but his services were declined. “I don’t wish to go in,” said the young man roughly. Here is my card.” The servant was hesitating, when Job, suspecting some mystery perhaps, approached. “Take in the gentleman’s card,” he said, with an air of authority; and, opening the door of a small room on the left-hand side of the staircase, he invited Wilkie to enter, saying, “If monsieur will be kind enough to take a seat, I will summon madame at once.” M. The air of luxury that pervaded the entire establishment, the liveried servants, the lights and flowers, all impressed him much more deeply than he would have been willing to confess.

And in spite of his affected arrogance, he felt that the superb assurance which was the dominant trait in his character was deserting him.

In his breast, moreover, in the place where physiologists locate the heart, he felt certain extraordinary movements which strongly resembled palpitations. For the first time it occurred to him that this woman, whose peace he had come to destroy, was not only the heiress of the Count de Chalusse’s millions, but also his mother, that is to say, the good fairy whose protection had followed him everywhere since he entered the world.

The thought that he was about to commit an atrocious act entered his mind, but he drove it away. Suddenly a door opposite the one by which he had entered opened, and Madame d’Argeles appeared on the threshold. She was no longer the woman whose anguish and terror had alarmed her guests. During the brief moment of respite which fate had granted her, she had summoned all her energy and courage, and had mastered her despair. “Yes,” he replied, drawling out the name affectedly, “I am M. For he had imagined that Madame d’Argeles would be like other women he had known, but not at all. “I wished to say to you,” he repeated, “I wished to say to you----” But the words he was seeking would not come; and, so at last, angry with himself, he exclaimed: “Ah! Do you dare to pretend that you don’t know?” She looked at him with admirably feigned astonishment, glanced despairingly at the ceiling, shrugged her shoulders, and replied: “Most certainly I don’t know--unless indeed it be a wager.” “A wager!” M.

Wilkie wondered if he were not the victim of some practical joke, and if there were not a crowd of listeners hidden somewhere, who, after enjoying his discomfiture, would suddenly make their appearance, holding their sides.

“Well, then,” he replied, huskily, “this is my reason. For she was heroic enough to laugh, although death was in her heart, and although the nails of her clinched hands were embedded deep in her quivering flesh.

I--your mother! Why, look at me----” He was doing nothing else, he was watching her with all the powers of penetration he possessed. All Coralth’s recommendations buzzed confusedly in his ears, and he judged that the moment had come “to do the sentimental,” as he would have expressed it. Other young men have a mother, sisters, relatives. if---- But I only have friends while my money lasts.” He wiped his eyes, dry as they were, with his handkerchief, and in a still more pathetic tone, resumed: “Not that I want for anything; I receive a very handsome allowance. But when my relatives have given me the wherewithal to keep me from starving, they imagine their duty is fulfilled. I didn’t come into the world at my own request, did I? If I was such an annoyance to them when I came into existence, why didn’t they throw me into the river? Then they would have been well rid of me, and I should be out of my misery!” He stopped short, struck dumb with amazement, for Madame d’Argeles had thrown herself on her knees at his feet.

the unfortunate woman had failed in playing a part which was too difficult for a mother’s heart. you can’t conceive the frightful agony it costs a mother to separate from her child! Have you not felt my love in the air around you? Know, then, that for years and years I have seen you every day, and that all my thoughts and all my hopes are centered in you alone! The poor woman misunderstood this movement. “Great God!” she exclaimed, “he spurns me; he loathes me. I dreaded the day when I should blush before you, before my own son. But your breath was ebbing away, your poor little arms no longer had strength to clasp me round the neck. And then I cried: ‘Perish my soul and body, if only my child can be saved!’ I believed such a sacrifice permissible in a mother. I knew the horrors of abject poverty, and I wished to save my son from it.

I would have licked up the very mire in your pathway to save you from a stain.

I will discover the vile coward who sent you here, who betrayed my secret. In parting from you, I took a solemn oath never to see you again, and to die without the supreme consolation of feeling your lips upon my forehead.” She could not continue; sobs choked her utterance. And for more than a minute the silence was so profound that one could hear the sound of low conversation in the hall outside, the exclamations of the players as they greeted each unexpected turn of luck, and occasionally a cry of “Banco!” or “I stake one hundred louis!” Standing silent and motionless near the window, Wilkie gazed with consternation at Madame d’Argeles, his mother, who was crouching in the middle of the room with her face hidden in her hands, and sobbing as if her heart would break. The strangeness of the scene appalled him.

“It would be so easy to explain things quietly and properly, but they must always cry and have a sort of melodrama.” Suddenly the sound of footsteps near the door roused him from his stupor. He shuddered at the thought that some one might come in. He hated the very idea of ridicule. So summoning all his courage he went toward Madame d’Argeles, and, raising her from the floor, he exclaimed: “Don’t cry so. Some one is coming.” Thereupon, as she offered no resistance, he half led, half carried her to an arm-chair, into which she sank heavily.

I don’t reproach you!” Slowly, with an air of humility which was indescribably touching, she took her hands from her face, and for the first time raised her tear-stained eyes to her son’s. “Will you not call me mother?” “Yes, of course--certainly. But--only you know it will take me some time to acquire the habit. when a woman reaches the years of understanding one should never cease repeating to her: ‘Take care! If women thought of this, they would never sin. Had they ever been separated? There was a world of entreaty in her eyes; they seemed to be begging a caress; she raised her quivering lips to his, but he did not observe it. my son!” she repeated; “to have you with me again, after all these years!” Unfortunately, no whirlwind of passion was capable of carrying M. He flattered himself that he was a man of mettle--and he remained as cold as ice beneath his mother’s kisses. Indeed, he barely tolerated them; and if he did allow her to embrace him, it was only because he did not know how to refuse.

How Costard and Serpillon would laugh if they saw me now.” Costard and Serpillon were his intimate friends, the co-proprietors of the famous steeplechaser. In her rapture, however, Madame d’Argeles did not observe the peculiar expression on her son’s face. She had compelled him to take a chair opposite her, and, with nervous volubility, she continued: “If I don’t deny myself the happiness of embracing you again, it is because I have not broken the vow I took never to make myself known to you. There are some sacrifices that are above human strength.” M. But will you have courage to forget?” “What?” She hung her head, and in an almost inaudible voice replied, “The past, Wilkie.” But with an air of the greatest indifference, he snapped his fingers, and exclaimed: “Nonsense! You are my mother; I care very little for public opinion. I begin by pleasing myself, and I consult other people afterward; and when they are dissatisfied, I tell them to mind their own business.” The poor woman listened to these words with a joy bordering on rapture. One might have supposed that the strangeness of her son’s expressions would have surprised her--have enlightened her in regard to his true character--but no. It is decided--mother.” She sprang up, wild with hope and enthusiasm.

“Then we are saved!” she cried. I will never set foot in these rooms again--the detested gamblers who are sitting here shall never see me again. Wilkie positively felt like a man who had just fallen from the clouds. “Where shall we go, then?” “To a country where we are unknown, Wilkie--to a land where you will not have to blush for your mother.” “But--” “Trust yourself to me, my son. My connections in England are such that you need not fear the obstacles one generally meets with among foreigners.

Patterson, who manages a large manufacturing establishment, will, I know, be happy to be of service to us--but we shall not be indebted to any one for long, now that you have resolved to work.” On hearing these words, M. Well, to tell the truth, that doesn’t suit me at all.” It was impossible to mistake M.

They revealed him in his true character. The bandage fell from her eyes. She had taken her dreams for realities, and the desires of her own heart for those of her son. what did you dare to hope?” And, without giving him time to reply, she continued: “Then it was only idle curiosity that brought you here. You wished to know the source of the money which you spend like water. This is a gambling house; one of those establishments frequented by distinguished personages, which the police ignore, or which they cannot suppress.

The hubbub you hear is made by the players. Some poor wretches have blown their brains out on leaving the house; others have parted with the last vestige of honor here. And the business pays me well. This is the source of your wealth, my son.” This anger, which succeeded such deep grief--this outburst of disdain, following such abject humility--considerably astonished M. “Fool!” continued Madame d’Argeles, “did nothing warn you that in coming here you would deprive yourself forever of the income you received? Did no inward voice tell you that all would be changed when you compelled me, Lia d’Argeles, to say, ‘Well, yes, it is true; you are my son?’ So long as you did not know who and what I was, I had a mother’s right to watch over you. I would rather let you starve than succor you, for I would rather see you dead than dishonored by my money.” “But--” “What! would you still consent to receive the allowance I have made you, even if I consented to continue it?” Had a viper raised its head in M. What do you take me for?” This repugnance was sincere; there could be no doubt of that, and it seemed to give Madame d’Argeles a ray of hope. People must have food, and clothes, and a roof to shelter them.

These things cost money. And where will you obtain it--you who rebel at the very word work?

Do you know that you have spent more than fifty thousand francs during the past two years? How have you squandered them? Have you been to the law-school a dozen times?

But you can be seen at the races, at the opera, in the fashionable restaurants, and at every place of amusement where a young man can squander money. I should like a few minutes to laugh; it is too ridiculous!” Was he really conscious of the cruelty of his ironical words? The blow was so terrible that Madame d’Argeles staggered beneath it. Still, she accepted it without rebellion, although it was in a tone of heart-broken anguish that she replied: “Perhaps I have no right to tell you the truth. I hope the future will prove that I am wrong.

Pray Heaven that you may never know what it is to be hungry and to have no bread.” For some time already the ingenious young man had shown unmistakable signs of impatience. “What do you mean to do then?” she asked, coldly. What about the fortune?” “What fortune?” “Eh? Your brother’s, the Count de Chalusse.” Now M. That maternal confidence which is so strong in the hearts of mothers vanished from Madame d’Argeles’s for ever. The depths of selfishness and cunning she discerned in Wilkie’s mind appalled her. She now understood why he had declared himself ready to brave public opinion--why he had proved willing to accept his share of the past ignominy. It was not his mother’s, but the Count de Chalusse’s estate that he claimed. And then, remembering M.

How much have you promised to pay him in case of success?” Although Wilkie prided himself on being very clever, he did not pretend to be a diplomatist, and, indeed, he was greatly disconcerted by this question; still, recovering himself, he replied: “It doesn’t matter how I obtained the information--whether I paid for it, or whether it cost me nothing--but I know that you are a Chalusse, and that you are the heiress of the count’s property, which is valued at eight or ten millions of francs. If he had been obliged to depend upon himself he would perhaps have been conquered by it; but he was armed with weapons which had been furnished by the cunning viscount. So he shrugged his shoulders, and coolly replied: “In that case we should remain poor, and the government would take possession of our millions. I am your son, and I shall claim the property.” “Even if I entreated you on my knees not to do so?” “Yes.” Madame d’Argeles’s eyes flashed. He drew from his pocket a scrap of paper, and flourishing it triumphantly, he exclaimed: “It would be extremely cruel on your part to deny me, but I foresaw such a contingency, and here is my answer, copied from the civil code: ‘Article 341. Inquiry as to maternity allowed, etc., etc.’” What the exact bearing of Wilkie’s threat might be Madame d’Argeles did not know. But she felt that this Article 341 would no doubt destroy her last hope; for the person who had chosen this weapon from the code to place it in Wilkie’s hand must have chosen it carefully.

She understood the situation perfectly. With her experience of life, she could not fail to understand the despicable part Wilkie was playing. She might have done so if she had not been so horrified by the utter want of principle which she had discovered in his character. But, under the circumstances, she realized that any effort in this direction would prove unavailing. So it was purely from a sense of duty and to prevent her conscience from reproaching her that she exclaimed: “So you will apply to the courts in order to constrain me to acknowledge you as my son?” “If you are not reasonable----” “That is to say, you care nothing for the scandal that will be created by such a course.

In order to prove yourself a member of the Chalusse family you will begin by disgracing the name and dragging it through the mire.” Wilkie had no wish to prolong this discussion. “One would suppose, to hear you talk, that you were the greatest criminal in the world. Goodness is all very well in its way, but there is such a thing as having too much of it! Break loose from this life to-morrow, assume your rightful name, install yourself at the Hotel de Chalusse, and in a week from now no one will remember that you were once known as Lia d’Argeles.

Why, if people attempted to rake up the past life of their acquaintances, they should have far too much to do.

Folks do not trouble themselves as to whether a person has done this or that; the essential thing is to have plenty of money.

Was it really her son who was speaking in this style, and to her of all people in the world? He had an excellent opinion of himself, but he was rather surprised at the effect of his eloquence. “I want to be on the move.

Even with the small allowance I’ve had, I have gained a very good position in society; and if I had plenty of money I should be the most stylish man in Paris. The count’s estate belongs to me, and so I must have it--in fact, I will have it. Very well then; to-morrow, then, you may expect an official notice. I wish you good-evening.” He bowed; he was really going, for his hand was already on the door-knob. The court will undoubtedly decide in your favor; I shall be placed in possession of my brother’s estate; but neither you nor I will have the disposal of these millions.” “Why?” “Because, though this fortune belongs to me, the control of it belongs to your father.” M. “To my father?” he exclaimed. “Impossible!” “It is so, however; and you would not have been ignorant of the fact, if your greed for money had not made you forget to question me. I am a married woman----” “Bah!” “And my husband--your father--is not dead. Since then he has been constantly striving to discover us, but in vain. He is still watching, you may be sure of that; and as soon as there is any talk of a law-suit respecting the Chalusse property, you will see him appear, armed with his rights.

He is the head of the family--your master and mine. You may yet see the day when you will regret the paltry twenty thousand francs a year formerly given you by your poor mother.” Wilkie’s face was whiter than his shirt.

“To-morrow I will show you my marriage certificate.” “Why not this evening?” “Because it is locked up in a room which is now full of people.” “And what was my father’s name?” “Arthur Gordon--he is an American.” “Then my name is Wilkie Gordon?” “Yes.” “And---is my father rich?” he inquired. “The devil!” he exclaimed, “and where does he live!” “He lives at Baden or Homburg in the summer; in Paris or at Monaco in the winter.” “Oh!

He knew what he had to expect from such a father as that. Anger now followed stupor--one of those terrible, white rages which stir the bile and not the blood. He pictured himself reduced to a mere pittance, and held in check and domineered over by a brutal father. “If you would only quietly assert your rights, everything could be arranged privately, and I should have time to put the property out of my father’s reach before he could claim it. Instead of doing that--as you hate me--you compel me to make the affair public, so that my father will hear of it and defraud me of everything. You are going to write at once, and make known your claim to your brother’s estate.” “No.” “Ah! Do not infuriate me beyond endurance----” As cold and rigid as marble, Madame d’Argeles faced him with the undaunted glance of a martyr whose spirit no violence can subdue.

But at this moment the door was flung open, and a man sprang upon him. Like the other guests, the baron had seen the terrible effect produced upon Madame d’Argeles by a simple visiting card. But he had this advantage over the others: he thought he could divine and explain the reason of this sudden, seemingly incomprehensible terror. “The poor woman has been betrayed,” he thought; “her son is here!” Still, while the other players crowded around their hostess, he did not leave the card-table. de Coralth, and he had seen the dashing viscount start and change color. His suspicions were instantly aroused, and he wished to verify them. He therefore pretended to be more than ever absorbed in the cards, and swore lustily at the deserters who had broken up the game.

While you have been trifling there, I might have gained--or lost--a hundred louis.” He was nevertheless greatly alarmed, and the prolonged absence of Madame d’Argeles increased his fears each moment. At the end of an hour he could restrain himself no longer.

So taking advantage of a heavy loss, he rose from the table, swearing that the beastly turmoil of a few moments before had changed the luck. Then passing into the adjoining drawing-room, he managed to make his escape unobserved. “Where is madame?” he inquired of the first servant he met. “In the little sitting-room.” “Alone?” “No; a young gentleman is with her.” The baron no longer doubted the correctness of his conjectures, and his disquietude increased. Quickly, and as if he had been in his own house, he hastened to the door of the little sitting-room and listened. The baron really felt alarmed. He stooped, applied his eye to the keyhole, and seeing M. Wilkie with his hand uplifted, he burst open the door and went in.

He arrived only just in time to fell Wilkie to the floor, and save Madame d’Argeles from that most terrible of humiliations: the degradation of being struck by her own son. “Ah, you rascal!” cried the worthy baron, transported with indignation, “you beggarly rascal! Is this the way you treat an unfortunate woman who has sacrificed herself for you--your mother? You try to strike your mother, when you ought to kiss her very footprints!” As livid as if his blood had been suddenly turned to gall--with quivering lips and eyes starting from their sockets--M. Wilkie rose, with difficulty, to his feet, at the same time rubbing his left elbow which had struck against the corner of a piece of furniture, in his fall.

And then, retreating a step: “Who gave you permission to come in here?” he added. By what right do you meddle with my affairs?” “By the right that every honest man possesses to chastise a cowardly rascal.” M. Wilkie shook his fist at the baron.

You must mend your manners a little, you old----” The word he uttered was so vile that no man could fail to resent it, much less the baron, who was already frantic with passion. “Jacques,” she said beseechingly, “Jacques!” This was the name which was indelibly impressed upon Wilkie’s memory--the name he had heard when he was but a child. Jacques--that was the name of the man who had brought him cakes and toys in the comfortable rooms where he had remained only a few days. “This is very fine--monsieur is the lover. He has the say here--he--” He did not have time to finish his sentence, for quick as thought the baron caught him by the collar, lifted him from the ground with irresistible strength, and flung him on his knees at Madame d’Argeles’s feet, exclaiming: “Ask her pardon, you vile wretch! Ask her pardon, or----” “Or” meant the baron’s clinched fist descending like a sledge-hammer on M. The worthy youth was frightened--so terribly frightened that his teeth chattered. Your mother must answer you!” Alas! the poor woman could no longer hear. She had endured so much during the past hour that her strength was exhausted, and she had fallen back in her arm-chair in a deep swoon.

The baron waited for a moment, and seeing that her eyes remained obstinately closed, he exclaimed: “This is your work, wretch!” And lifting him again, as easily as if he had been a child, he set him on his feet, saying in a calmer tone, but in one that admitted of no reply: “Arrange your clothes and go.” This advice was not unnecessary. Wilkie’s attire was decidedly the worse for the encounter. He had lost his cravat, his shirt-front was crumpled and torn, and his waistcoat--one of those that open to the waist and are fastened by a single button--hung down in the most dejected manner.

He obeyed the baron’s order without a word, but not without considerable difficulty, for his hands trembled like a leaf. When he had finished, the baron exclaimed: “Now be off; and never set foot here again--understand me--never set foot here again, never!” M.

Wilkie made no reply until he reached the door leading into the hall.

I am the insulted party--and I choose swords!” A frightful oath from the baron somewhat hastened M. He went out into the hall, and holding the door open, in a way that would enable him to close it at the shortest notice, he shouted back, so as to be heard by all the servants: “Yes; I will have satisfaction. To-morrow, I call you all to witness, there will be a lawyer here. Here is my card!” And actually, before he closed the door, he threw one of his cards into the middle of the room. The baron did not trouble himself to pick it up; his attention was devoted to Madame d’Argeles. What should the baron do? He did not wish to call the servants; they had heard too much already--but he had almost decided to do so, when his eyes fell upon a tiny aquarium, in a corner of the room.

He dipped his handkerchief in it; and alternately bathed Madame d’Argeles’s temples and chafed her hands. It was not long before the cold water revived her. She trembled, a convulsive shudder shook her from head to foot, and at last she opened her eyes, murmuring: “Wilkie!” “I have sent him away,” replied the baron. with returning life came the consciousness of the terrible reality. “He is my son!” she moaned, “my son, my Wilkie!” Then with a despairing gesture she pressed her hands to her forehead as if to calm its throbbings. women like me have no right to be mothers!” A burning tear coursed down the baron’s cheek; but he concealed his emotion as well as he could, and said, in a tone of assumed gayety: “Nonsense! We have all caused our mothers many anxious nights.

In knowledge of books, he may have been unequalled; but as a guardian for youth, he must have been the worst of fools. After keeping your son on a short allowance for years, he suddenly gorges him with oats--or I should say, money--lets him loose; and then seems surprised because the boy is guilty of acts of folly. So take courage, and hope for the best, my dear Lia.” She shook her head despondingly. “I am his mother; I can never cease to love him, whatever he may do. ‘Advice!’ Then he must have found a man who said to him: ‘Go to the house of this unfortunate woman who gave you birth, and order her to publish her dishonor and yours. In the vilest natures, and when every other honorable feeling has been lost, love for one’s mother survives. Even convicts deprive themselves of their wine, and sell their rations, in order to send a trifle now and then to their mothers--while he----” She paused, not because she shrunk from what she was about to say, but because she was exhausted and out of breath. She rested for a moment, and then resumed in a calmer tone: “Besides, the person who sent him here had counselled coolness and prudence. It was only toward the close of the interview, and after an unexpected revelation from me, that he lost all control over himself. The thought that he would lose my brother’s millions crazed him.

Wilkie’s adviser wished him to employ legal means to obtain an acknowledgment of his parentage; and he had copied from the Code a clause which is applicable to this case. By this one circumstance I am convinced that his adviser is a man of experience in such matters--in other words, the business agent----” “What business agent?” inquired the baron. “The person who called here the other day, M. why didn’t I not bribe him to hold his peace?” The baron had entirely forgotten the existence of Victor Chupin’s honorable employer. Fortunat has had no hand in this.” “Then who could have betrayed my secret?” “Why, your former ally, the rascal for whose sake you allowed Pascal Ferailleur to be sacrificed--the Viscount de Coralth!” The bare supposition of such treachery on the viscount’s part brought a flush of indignant anger to Madame d’Argeles’s cheek.

And then, remembering what reasons the baron had for hating M. Your animosity misleads you--he wouldn’t dare!” The baron read her thoughts.

de Coralth in my own name, and that I am endeavoring to find some other excuse to crush him.

This might have been so once; but it is not the case now. Ferailleur to do all in my power to save the young girl he loves, Mademoiselle Marguerite, my wife’s daughter, I renounced all thought of self, all my former plans. “Besides,” continued the baron, “you ought to know that when I make such a statement I have some better foundation for it than mere conjecture. When the servant handed you that card he turned extremely pale. After you left the room his hands trembled like leaves, and his mind was no longer occupied with the game. When the cards came to him he did still worse; and though luck favored him, he made the strangest blunders, and lost. His agitation and preoccupation were so marked as to attract attention; and one acquaintance laughingly inquired if he were ill, while another jestingly remarked that he had dined and wined a little too much. The traitor was evidently on coals of fire. I could see the perspiration on his forehead, and each time the door opened or shut, he changed color, as if he expected to see you and Wilkie enter. A dozen times I surprised him listening eagerly, as if by dint of attention, or by the magnetic force of his will, he hoped to hear what you and your son were saying.

The baron smiled a crafty and malicious smile, which would have chilled M.

“We mustn’t frighten the fish till we are quite ready. Our net is the Chalusse estate, and Coralth and Valorsay will enter it of their own accord. There’s a man for you!

and if Mademoiselle Marguerite is worthy of him they will make a noble pair. Without suspecting it, your son has perhaps rendered us an important service this evening--” “Alas!” faltered Madame d’Argeles, “I am none the less ruined--the name of Chalusse is none the less dishonored!” She wanted to return to the drawing-room; but she was compelled to relinquish this idea.

The expression of her face betrayed too plainly the terrible ordeal she had passed through. The servants had heard M. Wilkie’s parting words; and news of this sort flies about with the rapidity of lightning. That very night, indeed, it was currently reported at the clubs that there would be no more card-playing at the d’Argeles establishment, as that lady was a Chalusse, and consequently the aunt of the beautiful young girl whom M. and Madame de Fondege had taken under their protection. Unusual strength of character, unbounded confidence in one’s own energy, with thorough contempt of danger, and an invincible determination to triumph or perish, are all required of the person who, like Mademoiselle Marguerite, intrusts herself to the care of strangers--worse yet, to the care of actual enemies.

It is no small matter to place yourself in the power of smooth-tongued hypocrites and impostors, who are anxious for your ruin, and whom you know to be capable of anything.

And the task is a mighty one--to brave unknown dangers, perilous seductions, perfidious counsels, and perhaps even violence, at the same time retaining a calm eye and smiling lips. Yet such was the heroism that Marguerite, although scarcely twenty, displayed when she left the Hotel de Chalusse to accept the hospitality of the Fondege family. And, to crown all, she took Madame Leon with her--Madame Leon, whom she knew to be the Marquis de Valorsay’s spy. But, brave as she was, when the moment of departure came her heart almost failed her. There was despair in the parting glance she cast upon the princely mansion and the familiar faces of the servants. And there was no one to encourage or sustain her. standing at a window on the second floor, with his forehead pressed close against the pane of glass, she saw the only friend she had in the world--the old magistrate who had defended, encouraged, and sustained her--the man who had promised her his assistance and advice, and prophesied ultimate success. “Shall I be a coward?” she thought; “shall I be unworthy of Pascal?” And she resolutely entered the carriage, mentally exclaiming: “The die is cast!” The General insisted that she should take a place beside Madame de Fondege on the back seat; while he found a place next to Madame Leon on the seat facing them.

The drive was a silent and tedious one. The night was coming on; it was a time when all Paris was on the move, and the carriage was delayed at each street corner by a crowd of passing vehicles. The conversation was solely kept alive by the exertions of Madame de Fondege, whose shrill voice rose above the rumble of the wheels, as she chronicled the virtues of the late Count de Chalusse, and congratulated Mademoiselle Marguerite on the wisdom of her decision. Occasionally, the General leaned from the carriage window to see if the vehicle laden with Mademoiselle Marguerite’s trunks was following them, but he said nothing. At last they reached his residence in the Rue Pigalle. He alighted first, offered his hand successively to his wife, Mademoiselle Marguerite, and Madame Leon, and motioned the coachman to drive away. But the man did not stir. “Pardon--excuse me, monsieur,” he said, “but my employers bade--requested me----” “What?” “To ask you--you know, for the fare--thirty-five francs--not counting the little gratuity.” “Very well!--I will pay you to-morrow.” “Excuse me, monsieur; but if it is all the same to you, would you do so this evening? My employer said that the bill had been standing a long time already.” “What, scoundrel!” But Madame de Fondege, who was on the point of entering the house, suddenly stepped back, and drawing out her pocketbook, exclaimed: “That’s enough! Here are thirty-five francs.” The man went to his carriage lamp to count the money, and seeing that he had the exact amount--“And my gratuity?” he asked.

“I give none to insolent people,” replied the General. “You should take a cab if you haven’t money enough to pay for coaches,” replied the driver with an oath. “I’ll be even with you yet.” Marguerite heard no more, for Madame de Fondege caught her by the arm and hurried her up the staircase, saying: “Quick! Your baggage is here already, and we must see if the rooms I intended for you--for you and your companion--suit you.” When Marguerite reached the second floor, Madame de Fondege hunted in her pocket for her latch-key. A tall man-servant of impudent appearance and arrayed in a glaring livery opened the door, carrying an old battered iron candlestick, in which a tiny scrap of candle was glaring and flickering.

“What!” exclaimed Madame de Fondege, “the reception-room not lighted yet? Light the lamp. Tell the cook that I have some guests to dine with me. Go down and see if the General doesn’t need your assistance about the baggage.” Finding it difficult to choose between so many contradictory orders, the servant did not choose at all. He placed his rusty candlestick on one of the side-tables in the reception-room, and gravely, without saying a single word, went out into the passage leading to the kitchen. And soon the sound of a violent altercation arose; the servant lavishing insults upon his mistress, and she unable to find any response, save, “I dismiss you; you are an insolent scamp--I dismiss you.” Madame Leon, who was standing near Mademoiselle Marguerite in the reception-room, seemed greatly amused. “A fine beginning, upon my word.” But the worthy housekeeper was the last person on earth to whom Mademoiselle Marguerite wished to reveal her thoughts. “We are the cause of all this disturbance, and I am very sorry for it.” The retort that rose to the housekeeper’s lips was checked by the return of Madame de Fondege, followed by a servant-girl with a turn-up nose, a pert manner, and who carried a lighted candle in her hand. “How can I apologize, madame,” began Mademoiselle Marguerite, “for all the trouble I am giving you?” “Ah!

Come, come, and see your room.” And while they crossed several scantily-furnished apartments, Madame de Fondege continued: “It is I who ought to apologize to you. I fear you will pine for the splendors of the Hotel de Chalusse. We are not millionaires like your poor father. But here we are!” The maid had opened a door, and Mademoiselle Marguerite entered a good-sized room lighted by two windows, hung with soiled wall paper, and adorned with chintz curtains, from which the sun had extracted most of the coloring. Everything was in disorder here, and in fact, the whole room was extremely dirty. The bed was not made, the washstand was dirty, some woollen stockings were hanging over the side of the rumpled bed, and on the mantel-shelf stood an ancient clock, an empty beer bottle, and some glasses. On the floor, on the furniture, in the corners, everywhere in fact, stumps of cigars were scattered in profusion, as if they had positively rained down. Gustave slept here?” “I know it; but madame must remember that I have been very much hurried this last month, having to do all the washing and ironing since the laundress----” “That’s sufficient,” interrupted Madame de Fondege. By this time to-morrow the room shall be transformed into one of those dainty nests of muslin and flowers which young girls delight in.” Connected with this apartment, which was known to the household as the lieutenant’s room, there was a much smaller chamber lighted only by a single window, and originally intended for a dressing-room. It had two doors, one of them communicating with Marguerite’s room, and the other with the passage; and it was now offered to Madame Leon, who on comparing these quarters with the spacious suite of rooms she had occupied at the Hotel de Chalusse, had considerable difficulty in repressing a grimace.

And whether the marquis succeeded or not, he had promised her a sufficiently liberal reward to compensate for all personal discomfort. So, in the sweetest of voices, and with a feigned humility of manner, she declared this little room to be even much too good for a poor widow whose misfortunes had compelled her to abdicate her position in society. The attentions which M. Without knowing exactly what the General and his wife expected from Mademoiselle Marguerite, she was shrewd enough to divine that they hoped to gain some important advantage. “So these people will pay assiduous court to me,” she thought. And being quite ready to play a double part as the spy of the Marquis de Valorsay, and the Fondege family, and quite willing to espouse the latter’s cause should that prove to be the more remunerative course, she saw a long series of polite attentions and gifts before her. It was decided that she should take her meals at the family table, a thing which had never happened at the Hotel de Chalusse.

Mademoiselle Marguerite raised a few objections, which Madame Leon answered with a venomous look, but Madame de Fondege insisted upon the arrangement, not understanding, she said, graciously, why they need deprive themselves of the society of such an agreeable and distinguished person. Madame Leon in no wise doubted but this favor was due to her merit alone, but Mademoiselle Marguerite, who was more discerning, saw that their hostess was really furious at the idea, but was compelled to submit to it by the imperious necessity of preventing Madame Leon from coming in contact with the servants, who might make some decidedly compromising disclosures. For there were evidently many little mysteries and make-shifts to be concealed in this household. For instance, while the servants were carrying the luggage upstairs, Marguerite discovered Madame de Fondege and her maid in close consultation, whispering with that volubility which betrays an unexpected and pressing perplexity. What were they talking about? She listened without any compunctions of conscience, and the words “a pair of sheets,” repeated again and again, furnished her with abundant food for reflection. “Is it possible,” she thought, “that they have no sheets to give us?” It did not take her long to discover the maid’s opinion of the establishment in which she served; for while she brandished her broom and duster, this girl, exasperated undoubtedly by the increase of work she saw in store for her, growled and cursed the old barrack where one was worked to death, where one never had enough to eat, and where the wages were always in arrears. Mademoiselle Marguerite was doing her best to aid the maid, who was greatly surprised to find this handsome, queenly young lady so obliging, when Evariste, the same who had received warning an hour before, made his appearance, and announced in an insolent tone that “Madame la Comtesse was served.” For Madame de Fondege exacted this title.

By a search in the family archives she had discovered--so she declared to her intimate friends--that she was the descendant of a noble family, and that one of her ancestors had held a most important position at the court of Francis I. Indeed, she sometimes confounded them.

However, people who had not known her father, the wood merchant, saw nothing impossible in the statements. In the daytime when he discharged the duties of footman, he was gorgeous in gold lace; but in the evening, he arrayed himself in severe black, such as is appropriate to the butler of an aristocratic household. Immediately after his announcement everybody repaired to the sumptuous dining-room which, with its huge side-boards, loaded with silver and rare china, looked not unlike a museum. Such was the display, indeed, that when Mademoiselle Marguerite took a seat at the table, between the General and his wife, and opposite Madame Leon, she asked herself if she had not been the victim of that dangerous optical delusion known as prejudice. She noticed that the supply of knives and forks was rather scanty; but many economical housewives keep most of their silver under lock and key; besides the china was very handsome and marked with the General’s monogram, surmounted by his wife’s coronet. However, the dinner was badly cooked and poorly served. Still the General devoured it with delight. It was only by a powerful effort that he restrained himself from indulging in various witticisms which would have been most unseemly in the presence of a poor girl who had just lost her father and all her hopes of fortune.

But he did forget himself so much as to say that the drive to the cemetery had whetted his appetite, and to address his wife as Madame Range-a-bord, a title which had been bestowed upon her by a sailor brother. Crimson with anger to the very roots of her coarse, sandy hair--amazed to see her husband deport himself in this style, and almost suffocated by the necessity of restraining her wrath, Madame de Fondege was heroic enough to smile, though her eyes flashed ominously. But the General was not at all dismayed. On the contrary, he cared so little for his wife’s displeasure that, when the dessert was served, he turned to the servant, and, with a wink that Mademoiselle Marguerite noticed, “Evariste,” he ordered, “go to the wine-cellar, and bring me a bottle of old Bordeaux.” The valet, who had just received a week’s notice, was only too glad of an opportunity for revenge.

So with a malicious smile, and in a drawling tone, he replied: “Then monsieur must give me the money. Monsieur knows very well that neither the grocer nor the wine-merchant will trust him any longer.” M. de Fondege rose from the table, looking very pale; but before he had time to utter a word, his wife came to the rescue. “You know, my dear, that I don’t trust the key of my cellar to this lad. Evariste, call Justine.” The pert-looking chambermaid appeared, and her mistress told her where she would find the key of the famous cellar. About a quarter of an hour afterward, one of those bottles which grocers and wine-merchants prepare for the benefit of credulous customers was brought in--a bottle duly covered with dust and mould to give it a venerable appearance, and festooned with cobwebs, such as the urchins of Paris collect and sell at from fifteen sous to two francs a pound, according to quality. But the Bordeaux did not restore the General’s equanimity. He was silent and subdued; and his relief was evident when, after the coffee had been served, his wife exclaimed: “We won’t keep you from your club, my dear. I want a chat with our dear child.” Since she dismissed the General so unceremoniously, Madame de Fondege evidently wished for a tete-a-tete with Mademoiselle Marguerite.

At least Madame Leon thought so, or feigned to think so, and addressing the young girl, she said: “I shall be obliged to leave you for a couple of hours, my dear young lady. My relatives would never forgive me if I did not inform them of my change of residence.” This was the first time since she had been engaged by the Count de Chalusse, that the estimable “companion” had ever made any direct allusion to her relatives, and what is more, to relatives residing in Paris. She had previously only spoken of them in general terms, giving people to understand that her relatives had not been unfortunate like herself--that they still retained their exalted rank, though she had fallen, and that she found it difficult to decline the favors they longed to heap upon her. “I hope they won’t be offended by your devotion to me.” But in her secret heart, she thought: “This hypocrite is going to report to the Marquis de Valorsay, and these relatives of hers will furnish her with excuses for future visits to him.” The General went off, the servants began to clear the table, and Mademoiselle Marguerite followed her hostess to the drawing-room. It was a lofty and spacious apartment, lighted by three windows, and even more sumptuous in its appointments than the dining-room. Furniture, carpets, and hangings, were all in rather poor taste, perhaps, but costly, very costly. As the evening was a cold one, Madame de Fondege ordered the fire to be lighted. She seated herself on a sofa near the mantelpiece, and when Mademoiselle Marguerite had taken a chair opposite her, she began, “Now, my dear child, let us have a quiet talk.” Mademoiselle Marguerite expected some important communication, so that she was not a little surprised when Madame de Fondege resumed: “Have you thought about your mourning?” “About my mourning, madame?” “Yes. They are making costumes entirely of crepe now, puffed and plaited, and extremely stylish.

The Duchess de Veljo wore one only eleven days after her husband’s death; and she allowed some of her hair, which is superb, to fall over her shoulders, a la pleureuse, and the effect was extremely touching.” Was Madame de Fondege speaking sincerely? There could be no doubt of it.

Her features, which had been distorted with anger when the General took it into his head to order the bottle of Bordeaux, had regained their usual placidity of expression, and had even brightened a little. “I must confess, madame, that from my infancy I have been in the habit of making almost all my dresses myself.” The General’s wife raised her eyes to Heaven in real or feigned astonishment. You, the daughter of a man who possessed an income of five or six hundred thousand francs a year! But, my poor child, what did you do for fashions--for patterns?” The immense importance she attached to the matter was so manifest that Marguerite could not refrain from smiling.

“I was probably not a very close follower of the fashions,” she replied.

“The dress that I am wearing now----.” “Is very pretty, my child, and it becomes you extremely; that’s the truth. all right,” said she, “these dresses will doubtless do very well for your first months of mourning--but afterward?

Do you suppose, my poor dear, that I’m going to allow you to shut yourself up as you did at the Hotel de Chalusse? “I was very happy there, madame,” she murmured. Wait until you have been introduced into society before you boast of the charms of solitude. I will take your mother’s place, and we will make up for lost time! fetes and music, wonderful toilettes and the flashing of diamonds, the admiration of gentlemen, the envy of rivals, the consciousness of one’s own beauty, are these delights not enough to fill any woman’s life? It is intoxication, perhaps, but an intoxication which is happiness.” Was she sincere, or did she hope to dazzle this lonely girl, and then rule her through the tastes she might succeed in giving her? As is not unfrequently the case with callous natures, Madame de Fondege was a compound of frankness and cunning.

Mademoiselle Marguerite almost believed it--but the lady was too shrewd for that. “The season will certainly be unusually brilliant,” she said, “and it will begin very early. On the fifth of November, the Countess de Commarin will give a superb fete; all Paris will be there.

On the seventh, there will be a ball at the house of the Viscountess de Bois d’Ardon. On the eleventh, there will be a concert, followed by a ball, at the superb mansion of the Baroness Trigault--you know--the wife of that strange man who spends all his time in playing cards.” “This is the first time I ever heard the name mentioned.” “Really!

You must know then, my dear little ignoramus, that the Baroness Trigault is one of the most distinguished ladies in Paris, and certainly the best dressed. I am sure her bill at Van Klopen’s is not less than a hundred thousand francs a year--and that is saying enough, is it not?” And with genuine pride, she added: “The baroness is my friend. I will introduce you to her.” Having once started on this theme, Madame de Fondege was not easily silenced.

It was evidently her ambition to be considered a woman of the world, and to be acquainted with all the leaders of fashionable society; and, in fact, if one listened to her conversation for an hour one could learn all the gossip of the day. Though she was unable to interest herself in this tittle-tattle, Marguerite was pretending to listen to it with profound attention when the drawing-room door suddenly opened and Evariste appeared with an impudent smile on his face. “Madame Landoire, the milliner, is here, and desires to speak with Madame la Comtesse,” he said. “I will see her in a moment.” The order was useless, for the visitor was already on the threshold. This is the fourth time I’ve come here with my bill.” Madame de Fondege pointed to Mademoiselle Marguerite, and exclaimed: “Wait, at least, until I am alone before you speak to me on business.” Madame Landoire shrugged her shoulders. “I wish to put an end to this.” “Step into my room then, and we will put an end to it, and at once.” This opportunity to escape from Madame de Fondege must not be allowed to pass; so Marguerite asked permission to withdraw, declaring, what was really the truth, that she felt completely tired out. Isidore Fortunat, telling him that she would call upon him on the following Tuesday. “Well,” asked Marguerite, “did you see your friends?” “Don’t speak of it, my dear young lady; they were all of them away from home--they had gone to the play.” “Ah?” “So I shall go again early to-morrow morning; you must realize how important it is.” “Yes, I understand.” But Madame Leon, who was usually so loquacious, did not seem to be in a talkative mood that evening, and, after kissing her dear young lady, she went into her own room. “She did not succeed in finding the Marquis de Valorsay,” thought Marguerite, “and being in doubt as to the part she is to play, she feels furious.” The young girl tried to sum up the impressions of the evening, and to decide upon a plan of conduct, but she felt sad and very weary. She said to herself that rest would be more beneficial than anything else, and that her mind would be clearer on the morrow; so after a fervent prayer in which Pascal Ferailleur’s name was mentioned several times, she prepared for bed.

But before she fell asleep she was able to collect another bit of evidence. The sheets on her bed were new.

If Marguerite had been born in the Hotel de Chalusse, if she had known a father’s and a mother’s tender care from her infancy, if she had always been protected by a large fortune from the stern realities of life, there would have been no hope for her now that she was left poor and alone--for how can a girl avoid dangers she is ignorant of? But from her earliest childhood Marguerite had studied the difficult science of real life under the best of teachers--misfortune. Cast upon her own resources at the age of thirteen, she had learned to look upon everybody and everything with distrust; and by relying only on herself, she had become strangely cautious and clear-sighted. Two men, the Marquis de Valorsay and M. de Fondege’s son, coveted her hand; and one of the two, the marquis, so she believed, was capable of any crime. She had been in danger once before when she was little more than a child, when the brother of her employer insulted her with his attentions, but she had escaped unharmed. Deceit was certainly most repugnant to her truth-loving nature; but it was the only weapon of defence she possessed.

And so on the following day she carefully studied the abode of her entertainers.

And certainly the study was instructive. The General’s household was truly Parisian in character; or, at least, it was what a Parisian household inevitably becomes when its inmates fall a prey to the constantly increasing passion for luxury and display, to the furore for aping the habits and expenditure of millionaires, and to the noble and elevated desire of humiliating and outshining their neighbors. The dining-room was magnificent, the drawing-room superb; but these were the only comfortably furnished apartments in the establishment.

The other rooms were bare and desolate. It is true that Madame de Fondege had a handsome wardrobe with glass doors in her own room, but this was an article which the friend of the fashionable Baroness Trigault could not possibly dispense with. On the other hand, her bed had no curtains. The aspect of the place fittingly explained the habits and manners of the inmates. What sinister fears must have haunted them! for how could this extreme destitution in one part of the establishment be reconciled with the luxury noticeable in the other, except by the fact that a desperate struggle to keep up appearances was constantly going on?

And this constant anxiety made out-door noise, excitement, and gayety a necessity of their existence, and caused them to welcome anything that took them from the home where they had barely sufficient to deceive society, and not enough to impose upon their creditors.

“And they keep three servants,” thought Mademoiselle Marguerite--“three enemies who spend their time in ridiculing them, and torturing their vanity.” Thus, on the very first day after her arrival, she realized the real situation of the General and his wife. They were certainly on the verge of ruin when Mademoiselle Marguerite accepted their hospitality. Everything went to prove this: the coachman’s insolent demand, the servants’ impudence, the grocer’s refusal to furnish a single bottle of wine on credit, the milliner’s persistence, and, lastly, the new sheets on the visitors’ beds. “Yes,” thought Mademoiselle Marguerite to herself, “the Fondeges were ruined when I came here. They would never have sunk so low if they had not been utterly destitute of resources.

So, if they rise again, if money and credit come back again, then the old magistrate is right--they have obtained possession of the Chalusse millions!” IX On this side, at least, Mademoiselle Marguerite had no very wide field of investigation to explore. Her common sense told her that her task would merely consist in carefully watching the behavior of the General and his wife, in noting their expenditure, and so on. For she felt that the real difficulties would not begin until she became morally certain that the General had stolen the millions that were missing from the count’s escritoire. Even then it would remain for her to discover how he had obtained possession of this money. She must obtain sufficient evidence to give her the right of accusing the General openly, and in the face of every one. Here is the culprit!” What a long journey must be made before this goal was reached! What troubled her most was that she could not logically explain the conduct of her enemies from the time M. de Fondege had asked her hand for his son up to the present moment.

And first, why had they been so audacious or so imprudent as to bring her to their own home if they had really stolen one of those immense amounts that are sure to betray their possessors? “They are mad,” she thought, “or else they must deem me blind, deaf, and more stupid than mortal ever was!” Secondly, why should they be so anxious to marry her to their son, Lieutenant Gustave? However, she was fully decided on one point: the suspicions of the Fondege family must not be aroused. If they were on their guard, it would be the easiest thing in the world for them to pay their debts quietly, and increase their expenditure so imperceptibly that she would not be able to prove a sudden acquisition of wealth. But the events of the next few days dispelled these apprehensions. That very afternoon, although it was Sunday, it became evident that a shower of gold had fallen on the General’s abode. The door-bell rang incessantly for several hours, and an interminable procession of tradesmen entered.

They came in haughty and arrogant, with their hats upon their heads, and surly of speech, like people who have made up their minds to accept their loss, but who intend to pay themselves in rudeness. They were ushered into the drawing-room where the General was holding his levee; they remained there from five to ten minutes, and then, bowing low with hat in hand, they retired with radiant countenances, and an obsequious smile on their lips. So they had been paid. And as if to prove to Mademoiselle Marguerite that her suspicions were correct, she chanced to be present when the livery stable-keeper presented his bill. “So you are the man who teaches his drivers to insult his customers?

I hire a one-horse carriage from you by the month, and because I happen to wish for a two-horse vehicle for a single day, you make me pay the difference. You should demand payment in advance if you are so suspicious.” The stable-keeper, who had a bill for nearly four thousand francs in his pocket, stood listening with the air of a man who is meditating some crushing reply; but she did not give him time to deliver it. “When I have cause to complain of the people I employ, I dismiss them and replace them by others. Give me your bill.” The man, in whose face doubt, fear, and hope had succeeded each other in swift succession, thereupon drew an interminable bill from his pocket. And when he saw the bank-notes, when he saw the bill paid without dispute or even examination, he was seized with a wondering respect, and his voice became sweeter than honey. They say the payment of a bad debt delights a merchant a thousand times more than the settlement of fifty good ones.

The truth of this assertion became apparent in the present case. Mademoiselle Marguerite thought the man was going to beg “Madame la Comtesse to do him the favor to withhold a portion of the small amount.” For the Parisian tradesman is so constituted that very frequently it is not necessary to pay him money, but only to show it. She sent the man about his business, saying, “I never place myself in a position to be treated with disrespect a second time.” This probably accounted for the fact that Evariste, the footman, who had been so wanting in respect the previous evening, had been sent away that very morning. Had the cook also been replaced? It was certain, however, that the Sunday dinner was utterly unlike that of the evening before. It was not necessary to send to the cellar for a bottle of Chateau-Laroze; it made its appearance at the proper moment, warmed to the precise degree of temperature, and seemed quite to the taste of excellent Madame Leon.

In twenty-four hours the Fondege family had been raised to such affluence that they must have asked themselves if it were possible they had ever known the agonies of that life of false appearances and sham luxury which is a thousand times worse than an existence of abject poverty. For it surprised her that a keen-sighted person like Madame Leon should not have remarked this revolution; but the worthy companion merely declared the General and his wife to be charming people, and did not cease to congratulate her dear young lady upon having accepted their hospitality. In spite of her reason, in spite of the convincing proofs she had seen, the most disturbing doubts returned. Might she not have judged the situation with a prejudiced mind? Had the Fondeges really been as reduced in circumstances as she supposed? The only thing that really encouraged her was the thought that she could consult the old magistrate, and that M. She rose early the next morning, and had almost completed her toilette, when she heard some one in the passage outside rapping at the door of Madame Leon’s room. “Who’s there?” inquired that worthy lady. It was Justine, Madame de Fondege’s maid, who answered in a pert voice, “Here is a letter, madame, which has just been sent up by the concierge.

a letter from the Marquis de Valorsay!” she thought. It was evident that the estimable lady was expecting this missive by the eagerness with which she sprang out of bed and opened the door. And Marguerite heard her say to the servant in her sweetest voice: “A thousand thanks, my child! this is a great relief, I have heard from my brother-in-law at last.

I recognize his hand-writing.” And then the door closed again. Standing silent and motionless in the middle of her room, Marguerite listened with that feverish anxiety that excites the perceptive faculties to the utmost degree. But how could she convince herself of the truth of this presentiment? If she had followed her first impulse, she would have rushed into Madame Leon’s room and have snatched the letter from her hands. But if she did this, she would betray herself, and prove that she was not the dupe they supposed her to be, and this supposition on the part of her enemies constituted her only chance of salvation. If she could only watch Madame Leon as she read the letter, and gain some information from the expression of her face; but this seemed impossible, for the keyhole was blocked up by the key, which had been left in the lock on the other side.

Suddenly a crack in the partition attracted her attention, and finding that it extended through the wall, she realized she might watch what was passing in the adjoining room. So she approached the spot on tiptoe, and, with bated breath, stooped and looked in. In her impatience to learn the contents of her letter, Madame Leon had not gone back to bed. She had broken the seal, and was reading the missive, standing barefooted in her night-dress, directly opposite the little crevice. At last she shrugged her shoulders, muttered a few inaudible words, and laid the open letter upon the rickety chest of drawers, which, with two chairs and a bed, constituted the entire furniture of her apartment.

She began to dress, and when she had finished she read the letter again, and then placed it carefully in one of the drawers, which she locked, putting the key in her pocket.

“I shall never know, then,” thought Marguerite; “no, I shall never know. From that moment a firm determination to obtain that letter took possession of her mind; and so deeply was she occupied in seeking for some means to surmount the difficulties which stood in her way that she did not say a dozen words during breakfast. “I’m sure I could find in it the explanation of the abominable intrigue which Pascal and I are the victims of.” Happily, her preoccupation was not remarked. Each person present was too deeply engrossed in his or her own concerns to notice the behavior of the others. Madame Leon’s mind was occupied with the news she had just received; and, besides, her attention was considerably attracted by some partridges garnished with truffles, and a bottle of Chateau-Laroze. For she was rather fond of good living, the dear lady, as she confessed herself, adding that no one is perfect. The General talked of nothing but a certain pair of horses which he was to look at that afternoon, and which he thought of buying--being quite disgusted with job-masters, so he declared. Besides, he expected to get the animals at a bargain, as they were the property of a young gentleman who had been led to commit certain misdemeanors by his love of gambling and his passion for a notorious woman who was addicted with an insatiable desire for jewelry.

As for Madame de Fondege, her head seemed to have been completely turned by the prospect of the approaching fete at the Countess de Commarin’s. All the evening before, through part of the night, and ever since she had been awake that morning, she had been racking her brain to arrive at an effective combination of colors and materials.

And at the cost of a terrible headache, she had at last conceived one of those toilettes which are sure to make a sensation, and which the newspaper reporters will mention as noticeable for its “chic.” “Picture to yourself,” she said, all ablaze with enthusiasm, “picture to yourself a robe of tea-flower silk, trimmed with bands of heavy holland-tinted satin, thickly embroidered with flowers. A wide flounce of Valenciennes at the bottom of the skirt. Over this, I shall wear a tunic of pearl-gray crepe, edged with a fringe of the various shades in the dress, and forming a panier behind.” But how much trouble, time and labor must be expended before such an elaborate chef-d’oeuvre could be completed! How many conferences with the dressmaker, with the florist, and the embroiderer! there was not a moment to lose!

And certainly, the General’s wife deemed the proposal a seductive one. It is a very fashionable amusement to run from one shop to another, even when one cannot, or will not, buy. It is a custom, which some noble ladies have imported from America, to the despair of the poor shopkeepers. And thus every fine afternoon, the swell shops are filled to overflowing with richly-attired dames and damsels, who ask to see all the new goods. And when they return to dinner in the evening, after inspecting hundreds of yards of silk and satin, they are very well pleased with themselves, for they have not lost the day. Nor do the shrewdest always return from these expeditions empty-handed.

A dozen gloves or a piece of lace can be hidden so easily in the folds of a mantle!

And yet, to Madame de Fondege’s great surprise, Marguerite declined the invitation. But Madame Leon, who had not the same reasons as her dear child for wishing to remain at home, kindly offered her services. She was acquainted with several of the best shops, she declared, particularly with the establishment of a dealer in laces, in the Rue de Mulhouse, and thanks to an introduction from her, Madame de Fondege could not fail to conclude a very advantageous bargain there. “Very well,” replied Madame de Fondege, “I will take you with me, then; but make haste and dress while I put on my bonnet.” They left the breakfast-room at the same time, closely followed by Mademoiselle Marguerite, who was disturbed by a hope which she scarcely dared confess to herself. With her forehead resting against the wall, and her eye peering through the tiny crack, she watched her governess change her dress, throw a shawl over her shoulders, put on her best bonnet, and, after a glance at the looking-glass, rush from the room, exclaiming: “Here I am, my dear countess. I’m ready.” And a few moments afterward they left the house together. As the outer door closed after them, Marguerite’s brain whirled.

If she were not deceived, Madame Leon had left the key of the drawers in the pocket of the dress she had just taken off. So it was with a wildly throbbing heart that she opened the communicating door and entered her “companion’s” room. She hastily approached the bed on which the dress was lying, and, with a trembling hand, she began to search for the pocket. The key was there. The letter was within her reach. To steal a key, to force an article of furniture open, and violate the secret of a private correspondence, these were actions so repugnant to her sense of honor, and her pride, that for some time she stood irresolute. At last the instinct of self-preservation overpowered her scruples. Was not her honor, and Pascal’s honor also, at stake--as well as their mutual love and happiness? And with a firm hand she placed the key in the lock.

The latter was out of order and the drawer was only opened with difficulty.

But there, on some clothes which Madame Leon had not yet found time to arrange, Marguerite saw the letter. She eagerly snatched it up, unfolded it, and read: “Dear Madame Leon--” “Dear me,” she muttered, “here is the name in full. “I regret,” continued the letter, “that you did not find me at home, for I have instructions of the greatest importance to give you. We are approaching the decisive moment. F., in case any one condescended to think of him after the disgrace we fastened upon him the other evening at the house of Madame d’Argeles.” P. F.--these initials of course meant Pascal Ferailleur. Then he was innocent, and she held an undeniable, irrefutable proof of his innocence in her hands. “A bold stroke is in contemplation which, if no unfortunate and well-nigh impossible accident occur, will throw the girl into my arms.” Marguerite shuddered.

“The girl” referred to her, of course. “Thanks to the assistance of one of my friends,” added the letter “I can place this proud damsel in a perilous, terribly perilous position, from which she cannot possibly extricate herself unaided. I shall save her; and it will be strange if gratitude does not work the necessary miracle in my favor. The plan is certain to succeed. Still, it will be all the better if the physician who attended M.

If he is accessible to the seductive influence of a few thousand francs, I shall consider the business as good as concluded. Your conduct up to the present time has been a chef-d’oeuvre, for which you shall be amply compensated. Let the F’s continue their intrigues, and even pretend to favor them. I am not afraid of these people.

I understand their game perfectly, and know why they wish my little one to marry their son. But when they become troublesome, I shall crush them like glass. In spite of these explanations, which I have just given you for your guidance, it is very necessary that I should see you. Above all, don’t fail to bring me the desired information respecting Dr. We will burn it together. Don’t imagine that I distrust you--but there is nothing so dangerous as letters.” For some time Marguerite stood, stunned and appalled by the Marquis de Valorsay’s audacity, and by the language of this letter, which was at once so obscure and so clear, every line of it threatening her future. The reality surpassed her worst apprehensions, but realizing the gravity of the situation, she shook off the torpor stealing over her. Simply return the letter to its place, and continue to act the role of a dupe, as if nothing had happened? It would be madness not to seize this flagrant proof of the Marquis de Valorsay’s infamy.

But on the other hand, if she kept the letter, Madame Leon would immediately discover its loss, and an explanation would be unavoidable. de Valorsay would be worsted, but not annihilated, and the plans which made the physician’s intervention a necessity would never be revealed. She thought of hastening to her friend the old magistrate; but he lived a long way off, and time was pressing. Then she thought of going to a notary, to a judge. She would show them the letter, and they could take a copy of it. But no--this would do no good--the marquis could still deny it. And without pausing to deliberate any longer, she threw a mantle over her shoulders, hastily tied on her bonnet, and hurried from the house, without saying a word to any one. Unfortunately she was not acquainted with this part of Paris, and on reaching the Rue Pigalle she was at a loss for her way.

Unwilling to waste any more time, she hastily entered a grocer’s shop at the corner of the Rue Pigalle and the Rue Notre Dame de Lorette, and anxiously inquired: “Do you know any photographer in this neighborhood, monsieur?” Her agitation made this question seem so singular that the grocer looked at her closely for a moment, as if to make sure that she was not jesting. “You have only to go down the Rue Notre Dame de Lorette,” he replied, “and on the left-hand side, at the foot of the hill, you will find the photographer Carjat.” “Thank you.” The grocer stepped to the door to watch her. Her demeanor was really so extraordinary that it attracted the attention of the passers-by.

At the spot the grocer had indicated, she perceived several show frames filled with photographs hanging on either side of a broad, open gateway, above which ran the name, “E.

Carjat.” She went in, and seeing a man standing at the door of an elegant pavilion on the right-hand side of a large courtyard, she approached him, and asked for his employer. “He is here,” replied the man. “Does madame come for a photograph?” “Yes.” “Then will madame be so kind as to pass in. There are only four or five persons before her.” Four or five persons!

She had not the slightest idea. But she DID know that she had not a second to lose, that Madame Leon might return at any moment, and find the letter missing; and, to crown all, she remembered now that she had not even locked the drawer again. Go and tell him that he must come.” Her tone was so commanding, and there was so much authority in her glance, that the servant hesitated no longer.

She was beginning to realize the strangeness of the step she had taken--to fear the result it might lead to--and to be astonished at her own boldness. But she had no time to prepare what she wished to say, for a man of five-and-thirty, wearing a mustache and imperial, and clad in a velvet coat, entered the room, and bowing with an air of surprise, exclaimed: “You desire to speak with me, madame?” “I have a great favor to ask of you, monsieur.” “Of me?” She drew M. de Valorsay’s letter from her pocket, and, showing it to the photographer, she said, “I have come to you, monsieur, to ask you to photograph this letter--but at once--before me--and quickly--very quickly.

The honor of two persons is imperilled by each moment I lose here.” Mademoiselle Marguerite’s embarrassment was extreme. Still her attitude was proud, generous enthusiasm glowed in her dark eyes, and her tone of voice revealed the serenity of a lofty soul ready to dare anything for a just and noble cause. This striking contrast--this struggle between girlish timidity and a lover’s virgil energy, endowed her with a strange and powerful charm, which the photographer made no attempt to resist. Unusual as was the request, he did not hesitate. Not wishing to return to the reception-room, where five or six clients were impatiently awaiting their turn, he called one of his subordinates, and ordered him to bring the necessary apparatus at once. I came on the impulse of the moment, without any knowledge on the subject. Before you set to work, I must know if what you can do will answer my purpose.” “Speak, madame.” “Will the copy you obtain be precisely like the original in every particular?” “In every particular.” “The writing will be the same--exactly the same?” “Absolutely the same.” “So like, that if one of your photographs should be presented to the person who wrote this letter----” “He could no more deny his handwriting than he could if some one handed him the letter itself.” “And the operation will leave no trace on the original?” “None.” A smile of triumph played upon Mademoiselle Marguerite’s lips. It was as she had thought; the defensive plan which she had suddenly conceived was a good one. “I am only a poor, ignorant girl: excuse me, and give me the benefit of your knowledge.

But afterward, in case of any difficulty--in case of a law-suit--or in case it should be necessary for me to prove certain things which one might establish by means of this letter, would one of your photographs be admitted as evidence?” The photographer did not answer for a moment. Now he understood Mademoiselle Marguerite’s motive, and the importance she attached to a facsimile. But this imparted an unexpected gravity to the service he was called upon to perform. He therefore wished some time for reflection, and he scrutinized Mademoiselle Marguerite as if he were trying to read her very soul.

“My facsimile would certainly be admitted as evidence,” he replied at last; “and this would not be the first time that the decision of a court has depended on proofs which have been photographed by me.” Meanwhile, his assistant had returned, bringing the necessary apparatus with him. When all was ready, the photographer asked her, “Will you give me the letter, madame?” She hesitated for a second--only for a second. The man’s honest, kindly face told her that he would not betray her, that he would rather give her assistance. So she handed him the Marquis de Valorsay’s letter, saying, with melancholy dignity, “It is my happiness and my future that I place in your hands--and I have no fears.” He read her thoughts, and understood that she either dared not ask for a pledge of secrecy, or else that she thought it unnecessary. “I shall read this letter, madame,” said he, “but I am the only person who will read it. No one but myself will see the proofs.” Greatly moved, she offered him her hand, and simply said, “Thanks; I am more than repaid.” To obtain an absolutely perfect facsimile of a letter is a delicate and sometimes lengthy operation. However, at the end of about twenty minutes, the photographer possessed two negatives that promised him perfect proofs.

He looked at them with a satisfied air; and then returning the letter to Mademoiselle Marguerite, he said, “In less than three days the facsimiles will be ready, madame; and if you will tell me to what address I ought to send them----” She trembled on hearing these words, and quickly answered, “Don’t send them, sir--keep them carefully. all would be lost if it came to the knowledge of any one. I will send for them, or come myself.” And, feeling the extent of her obligation, she added, “But I will not go without introducing myself--I am Mademoiselle Marguerite de Chalusse.” And, thereupon, she went off, leaving the photographer surprised at the adventure and dazzled by his strange visitor’s beauty. Rather more than an hour had elapsed since Marguerite left M. “How time flies!” she murmured, quickening her pace as much as she could without exciting remark--“how time flies!” But, hurried as she was, she stopped and spent five minutes at a shop in the Rue Notre Dame de Lorette where she purchased some black ribbon and a few other trifles. How else could she explain and justify her absence, if the servants, who had probably discovered she had gone out, chanced to speak of it? But her heart throbbed as if it would burst as she ascended the General’s staircase, and anxiety checked her breathing as she rang the bell.

“What if Madame de Fondege and Madame Leon had returned, and the abstraction of the letter been discovered!” Fortunately, Madame de Fondege required more than an hour to purchase the materials for the elaborate toilette she had dreamt of. The ladies were still out, and Mademoiselle Marguerite found everything in the same condition as she had left it. She carefully placed the letter in the drawer again, locked it, and put the key in the pocket of Madame Leon’s dress. Then she breathed freely once more; and, for the first time in six days, she felt something very like joy in her heart. Now she had no fear of the Marquis de Valorsay. He would destroy his letter the next day, and think that he was annihilating all proofs of his infamy. At the decisive moment, at the very moment of his triumph, she would produce the photograph of this letter, and crush him. However, her nature was not one of those weak ones which are become intoxicated by the first symptom of success, and then relax in their efforts. When her excitement had abated a little, she was inclined to disparage rather than to exaggerate the advantage she had gained. And, though she felt that she possessed a formidable weapon of defence, she could not drive away her gloomy forebodings when she thought of the threats contained in the marquis’s letter.

“Thanks to the assistance of one of my friends,” he wrote, “I can place this proud girl in a perilous, terribly perilous, position, from which she cannot possibly extricate herself unaided.” These words persistently lingered in Mademoiselle Marguerite’s mind. What was the danger hanging over her?

What abominable machination might she not expect from the villain who had deliberately dishonored Pascal? Would he attempt to decoy her into a trap where she would be subjected to the insults of the vilest wretches?

A thousand frightful memories of the time when she was an apprentice drove her nearly frantic. “I will never go out unarmed,” she thought, “and woe to the man who raises his hand against me!” The vagueness of the threat increased her fears. The marquis was not her only enemy. She had the Fondege family to dread--these dangerous hypocrites, who had taken her to their home so that they might ruin her the more surely. de Valorsay wrote that he had no fears of the Fondeges--that he understood their little game. What was their little game?

No doubt they were resolved that she should become their son’s wife, even if they were obliged to use force to win her consent. When she was attacked, would she have time to produce and use the facsimile of Valorsay’s letter? Fortunately she had a friend in whom she could safely confide--the old magistrate who had given her such proofs of sympathy. She felt that she needed the advice of a riper experience than her own, and the thought of consulting him at once occurred to her. She was alone; she had no spy to fear; and it would be folly not to profit by the few moments of liberty that remained. So she drew her writing-case from her trunk, and, after barricading her door to prevent a surprise, she wrote her friend an account of the events which had taken place since their last interview. She told him everything with rare precision and accuracy of detail, sending him a copy of Valorsay’s letter, and informing him that, in case any misfortune befell her, he could obtain the facsimiles from Carjat. It was nearly six o’clock when the two shoppers made their appearance, wearied with the labors of the day, but in fine spirits. Besides purchasing every requisite for that wonderful costume of hers, the General’s wife had found some laces of rare beauty, which she had secured for the mere trifle of four thousand francs. “Besides, it is the same with lace as with diamonds, you should purchase them when you can--then you have them.

“So money is no longer lacking in this household,” thought Mademoiselle Marguerite, all the more confirmed in her suspicions. The General came in a little later, accompanied by a friend, and Marguerite soon discovered that the worthy man had spent the day as profitably as his wife. First, he had purchased the horses belonging to the ruined spendthrift, and he had paid five thousand francs for them, a mere trifle for such animals. Less than an hour after the purchase he had refused almost double that amount from a celebrated connoisseur in horse-flesh, M. This excellent speculation had put him in such good humor that he had been unable to resist the temptation of purchasing a beautiful saddle-horse, which they let him have for a hundred louis.

He had not been foolish, for he was sure that he could sell the animal again at an advance of a thousand francs whenever he wished to do so. “So,” remarked his friend, “if you bought such a horse every day, you would make three hundred and sixty-five thousand francs a year.” Was this only a jest--one of those witticisms which people who boast of wonderful bargains must expect to parry, or had the remark a more serious meaning?

One thing is certain, the General did not lose his temper, but gayly continued his account of the way in which he had spent his time. Having purchased the horses, his next task was to find a carriage, and he had heard of a barouche which a Russian prince had ordered but didn’t take, so that the builder was willing to sell it at less than cost price; and to recoup this worthy man, the General had purchased a brougham as well. He had, moreover, hired stabling in the Rue Pigalle, only a few steps from the house, and he expected a coachman and a groom the following morning. “And all this will cost us less than the miserable vehicle we have been hiring by the year,” observed Madame de Fondege, gravely. I’ve counted the cost.

I shall no longer be obliged to blush for the skinny horses the stable-keeper sends me, nor to endure the insolence of his men. The first outlay frightened me a little; but that is made now, and I am delighted. She was intensely exasperated, and on regaining her chamber she said to herself, for the tenth time, “What do they take me for? Do they think me an idiot to flaunt the millions they have stolen from my father--that they have stolen from me--before my eyes in this fashion? A common thief would take care not to excite suspicion by a foolish expenditure of the fruits of his knavery, but they--they have lost their senses.” Madame Leon was already in bed, and when Mademoiselle Marguerite was satisfied that she was asleep, she took her letter from her trunk, and added this post-script: “P. S.--It is impossible to retain the shadow of a doubt, M.

This audacity must arise from a conviction that no proofs of the crime they have committed exist. Still they continue to talk to me about their son, Lieutenant Gustave. To-morrow, also, between three and four, I shall be at the house of a man who can perhaps discover Pascal’s hiding-place for me,--the house of M. I hope to make my escape easily enough, for at that same hour, Madame Leon has an appointment with the Marquis de Valorsay.” X. The old legend of Achilles’s heel will be eternally true. A man may be humble or powerful, feeble or strong, but there are none of us without some weak spot in our armor, a spot vulnerable beyond all others, a certain place where wounds prove most dangerous and painful. To attack him there was to endanger his life--to wound him at a point where all his sensibility centred. This then explains his frenzy on that ill-fated Sunday, when, after being brutally dismissed by M. Wilkie, he returned to his rooms in the company of his clerk, Victor Chupin.

This explains, too, the intensity of the hatred he now felt for the Marquis de Valorsay and the Viscount de Coralth. The former, the marquis, had defrauded him of forty thousand francs in glittering gold. The other, the viscount, had suddenly sprung up out of the ground, and carried off from under his very nose that magnificent prize, the Chalusse inheritance, which he had considered as good as won. By people who did not make it their profession to be shrewd, like he did himself. Just fancy, his business was to outwit others, and a couple of mere amateurs had outgeneraled him. However, at the very moment when he was dreaming of wreaking vengeance on the Marquis de Valorsay and the Viscount de Coralth, his housekeeper, austere Madame Dodelin, handed him Mademoiselle Marguerite’s letter. “Tuesday,” he repeated, “the day after to-morrow--at your house--between three and four o’clock--I must speak with you.” His manner was so strange, and his usually impassive face so disturbed by conflicting feelings, that Madame Dodelin’s curiosity overcame her prudence, and she remained standing in front of him with open mouth, staring with all her eyes and listening with all her ears.

Get back to your kitchen, or----” She fled in alarm, and he then entered his private office.

His heart was leaping with joy, and he laughed wickedly at the hope of a speedy revenge. “She’s on the scent,” he muttered; “and she has luck in her favor. She has chanced to apply to me on the very day that I had resolved to defend and rehabilitate her lover, the honest fool who allowed himself to be dishonored by those unscrupulous blackguards. Who can deny the existence of Providence after this?” Like many other people, M. Fortunat piously believed in Providence when things went to his liking, but it is sad to add that in the contrary case he denied its existence.

And if it takes ten thousand francs to put them there, and if neither Mademoiselle Marguerite nor M. Ferailleur has the amount--ah, well! I’ll advance--well, at least five thousand--without charging them any commission. I’ll even pay the expenses out of my own pocket, if necessary. In a week’s time we’ll see who laughs last.” He paused, for Victor Chupin, who had lingered behind to pay the driver, had just entered the room. “I paid the driver four francs and five sous, here’s the change.” “Keep it yourself, Victor,” said M. Under any other circumstances such unusual generosity would have drawn a grimace of satisfaction from young Chupin.

But to-day he did not even smile; he slipped the money carelessly into his pocket, and scarcely deigned to say “thanks,” in the coldest possible tone. “We have them, Victor,” he resumed. “I told you that Valorsay and Coralth should pay me for their treason. “Excuse me, m’sieur,” said he, “but in order to answer you, I must have some knowledge of the affair. “So far the explanation I gave you was all that was necessary; but now that I expect more important services from you, I ought to tell you the whole truth, or at least all I know about the affair. This will prove my great confidence in you.” Whereupon, he acquainted Chupin with everything he knew concerning the history of M. de Chalusse, the Marquis de Valorsay, and Mademoiselle Marguerite.

However, if he expected these disclosures to elevate him in his subordinate’s estimation he was greatly mistaken. Fortunat’s part came from disappointed avarice and wounded vanity, and that the agent would have allowed the Marquis de Valorsay to carry out his infamous scheme without any compunctions of conscience, providing he, himself, had not been injured by it. Still, the young fellow did not allow his real feelings to appear on his face. Fortunat his opinion of him; and in the second place, he did not deem it an opportune moment for a declaration of his sentiments.

So, when his employer paused, he exclaimed: “Well, we must outwit these scoundrels--for I’ll join you, m’sieur; and I flatter myself that I can be very useful to you. Do you want the particulars of the viscount’s past life? If so, I can furnish them. I know the brigand. I can tell you the scrapes he has been in.” “No doubt; but the most important thing is to know how he’s living now, and on what!” “Not by honest work, I can tell you. As soon as I can go home, change my clothes, and disguise myself, I’ll start after him; and may I be hung, if I don’t return with a complete report before Tuesday.” A smile of satisfaction appeared on M. You know my establishment”--he spoke this word with a grandiloquent air--“you have seen my good mother--my expenses are heavy----” “In short, you don’t think I offer you enough?” “On the contrary, sir--but you don’t allow me to finish. I don’t want either my board or my expenses, not a penny--nothing.

I have eight hundred francs hidden in my room, the fruit of years of work. I’ll spend the last penny of it if need be; and if I can see Coralth in the mire, I shall say, ‘My money has been well expended.’ I’d rather see that day dawn than be the possessor of a hundred thousand francs. There must be an end to it.” M. de Coralth, who was a man of wide experience, would certainly have felt alarmed if he had seen his unknown enemy at the present moment, for Victor’s eyes, usually a pale and undecided blue, were glittering like steel, and his hands were clinched most threateningly.

“For he was the cause of all my trouble,” he continued, gloomily. If it hadn’t been for a miracle I should have killed a man--the king of men. if Monsieur Andre had broken his back by falling from a fifth-floor window, my Coralth would be the Duc de Champdoce to-day. No--there are too many such villains at large for public safety. He only said, ‘If you are not irredeemably bad you will be honest after this.’ And he said these words as he was lying there as pale as death with his shoulder broken, and his body mangled from his fall. I have his portrait at home, and every night, before going to bed, I tell him the history of the day--and sometimes I fancy that he smiles at me. Andre and my good mother, they are my supports, my crutches, and with them I’m not afraid of making a false step.” Schebel, the German philosopher, who has written a treatise on Volition, in four volumes, was no greater a man than Chupin. “I’m an honest fellow, and honest men ought to ask no reward for the performance of a duty. Coralth mustn’t be allowed to triumph over the innocent chap he ruined.

Never mind--we’ll get him out of this scrape; he shall marry his sweetheart after all; and I’ll dance at the wedding.” As he finished speaking he laughed a shrill, dangerous laugh, which revealed his sharp teeth--but such invincible determination was apparent on his face, that M. He was sure that this volunteer would be of more service than the highest-priced hireling.

“As upon yourself.” “And you hope to have some positive information by Tuesday?” “Before then, I hope, if nothing goes amiss.” “Very well; I will devote my attention to Ferailleur then. As to Valorsay’s affairs, I am better acquainted with them than he is himself. We must be prepared to enter upon the campaign when Mademoiselle Marguerite comes, and we will act in accordance with her instructions.” Chupin had already caught up his hat; but just as he was leaving the room, he paused abruptly.

“I had forgotten the principal thing. “Viscounts of his stamp don’t parade their addresses in the directory. “I shall lose the entire evening hunting up the rascal’s address,” he grumbled, as he hastened homeward. de Valorsay’s residence, and of bribing one of the valets; but while crossing the boulevard, the sight of Brebant’s Restaurant put a new idea into his head. “I have it!” he muttered; “my man’s caught!” And he darted into the nearest cafe where he ordered some beer and writing materials. Under other circumstances, he would have hesitated to employ so hazardous an expedient as the one he was about to resort to, but the character of his adversaries justified any course; besides, time was passing, and he had no choice of resources.

As soon as the waiter served him, he drained his glass of beer to give himself an inspiration, and then, in his finest hand, he wrote: “MY DEAR VISCOUNT--Here’s the amount--one hundred francs--that I lost to you last evening at piquet. Your friend, “VALORSAY.” When he had finished this letter he read it over three or four times, asking himself if this were the style of composition that very fashionable folks employ in repaying their debts. To tell the truth, he doubted it. In the rough draft which he penned at first, he had written bezique, but in the copy he wrote piquet, which he deemed a more aristocratic game.

“However,” said he, “no one will examine it closely!” Then, as soon as the ink was dry, he folded the letter and slipped it into an envelope with a hundred franc-note which he drew from an old pocketbook. He next addressed the envelope as follows: “Monsieur le Vicomte de Coralth, En Ville,” and having completed his preparations, he paid his score, and hastened to Brebant’s. Two waiters were standing at the doorway, and, showing them the letter, he politely asked: “Do you happen to know this name? I ran after him to return it; but I couldn’t overtake him.” The waiters examined the address.

“Coralth!” they replied. He isn’t a regular customer, but he comes here occasionally.” “And where does he live?” “Why do you wish to know?” “So as to take him this letter, to be sure!” The waiters shrugged their shoulders. “Let the letter go; it is not worth while to trouble yourself.” Chupin had foreseen this objection, and was prepared for it. “But there’s money in the letter,” he remonstrated. And opening the envelope, he showed the bank-note which he had taken from his own pocket-book. This changed the matter entirely. “That is quite a different thing,” remarked one of the waiters. But just leave it here at the desk, and the next time the viscount comes in, the cashier will give it to him.” A cold chill crept over Chupin at the thought of losing his bank-note in this way. Who’d get the reward?

And that’s why I want his address.” The argument was of a nature to touch the waiters; they thought the young man quite right; but they did not know M. de Coralth’s address, and they saw no way of procuring it. “Unless perhaps the porter knows,” observed one of them. The porter, on being called, remembered that he had once been sent to M. “I’ve forgotten his number,” he declared; “but he lives in the Rue d’Anjou, near the corner of the Rue de la Ville l’Eveque.” This direction was not remarkable for its precision, but it was more than sufficient for a pure-blooded Parisian like Victor Chupin. “Many thanks for your kindness,” he said to the porter. And, believe me, if there’s any reward, you shall see that I know how to repay a good turn.” “And if you don’t find the viscount,” added the waiters, “bring the money here, and it will be returned to him.” “Naturally!” replied Chupin.

I thought for a moment they had their hands on my precious bank-note.” But he had already recovered from his fright, and as he turned his steps homeward he congratulated himself on the success of his stratagem. “The Rue d’Anjou Saint Honore hasn’t a hundred numbers in it, and even if I’m compelled to go from door to door, my task will soon be accomplished.” On reaching home he found his mother engaged in knitting, as usual. This was the only avocation that her almost complete blindness allowed her to pursue; and she followed it constantly. As you must be greatly tired after being up all night, I’m making you a stew.” As customary when he returned, Chupin embraced the good woman with the respectful tenderness which had so surprised M. “You are always kind,” said he, “but, unfortunately, I can’t remain to dine with you.” “But you promised me.” “That’s true, mamma; but business, you see--business.” The worthy woman shook her head. mother!

do you think I can forget you and Monsieur Andre?” His mother said no more, and he entered the tiny nook which he so pompously styled his chamber, and quickly changed the clothes he was wearing (his Sunday toggery) for an old pair of checked trousers, a black blouse, and a glazed cap. Fortunat’s respectable clerk, there appeared one of those vagabonds who hang about cafes and theatres from six in the evening till midnight, and spend the rest of their time playing cards in the low drinking dens near the barrieres. It was the old Chupin come to life once more--Toto Chupin as he had appeared before his conversion. And as he took a last look in the little glass hanging over the table, he was himself astonished at the transformation. “Ah!” he muttered, “I was a sorry looking devil in those days.” Although he had cautiously avoided making any noise in dressing, his mother, with the wonderfully acute hearing of the blind, had followed each of his movements as surely as if she had been standing near watching him. “You have changed your clothes, Toto,” she remarked. “Yes, mother.” “But why have you put on your blouse, my son?” Although accustomed to his mother’s remarkable quickness of perception, he was amazed. The blind woman’s usually placid face had become stern.

“But, mother----” “Hush, my son!

Since I heard that man’s voice, I’m sure that he is quite as capable of urging you to commit a crime as others were in days gone by.” The blind woman was preaching to a convert; for during the past three days, M. “I promise you I’ll leave him, mother,” he declared, “so you may be quite easy in mind.” “Very well; but now, at this moment, where are you going?” There was only one way of completely reassuring the good woman, and that was to tell her all. “Ah, well!” she said, when the narrative was finished.

How could you be induced to play the part of a spy, when you know so well what it leads to? Your employer’s intentions are good now; but they WERE criminal when he ordered you to follow Madame d’Argeles. I, who am only a poor plebeian, should die of shame under such circumstances.” Chupin blew his nose so loudly that the window-panes rattled; this was his way of repressing his emotion whenever it threatened to overcome him. “You speak like the good mother that you are,” he exclaimed at last, “and I’m prouder of you than if you were the handsomest and richest lady in Paris, for you’re certainly the most honest and virtuous; and I should be a thorough scoundrel if I caused you a moment’s sorrow. But for this once----” “For this once, you may go, Toto; I give my consent.” He went off with a lighter heart; and on reaching the Rue d’Anjou he immediately began his investigations.

They were not successful at first. At every house where he made inquiries nobody had any knowledge of the Viscount de Coralth. He had visited half the buildings in the street, when he reached one of the handsomest houses, in front of which stood a cart laden with plants and flowers. An old man, who seemed to be the concierge, and a valet in a red waistcoat, were removing the plants from the vehicle and arranging them in a line under the porte cochere. As soon as the cart was emptied, it drove away, whereupon Chupin stepped forward, and addressing the concierge, asked: “Does the Viscount de Coralth live here?” “Yes. “My reason for inquiring is this: just now, as I passed near the Madeleine, a very elegant lady called me, and said: ‘M. de Coralth lives in the Rue d’Anjou, but I’ve forgotten the number. I can’t go about from door to door making inquiries, so if you’ll go there and ascertain his address for me, I’ll give you five francs for yourself,’ so my money’s made.” Profiting by his old Parisian experience, Chupin had chosen such a clever excuse that both his listeners heartily laughed. “Well, Father Moulinet,” cried the servant in the red waistcoat, “what do you say to that? Are there any elegant ladies who give five francs for YOUR address?” “Is there any lady who’s likely to send such flowers as these to YOU?” was the response.

Chupin was about to retire with a bow, when the concierge stopped him. “You accomplish your errands so well that perhaps you’d be willing to take these flower-pots up to the second floor, if we gave you a glass of wine!” No proposal could have suited Chupin better. Although he was prone to exaggerate his own powers and the fecundity of his resources, he had not flattered himself with the hope that he should succeed in crossing the threshold of M. For, without any great mental effort, he had realized that the servant arrayed in the red waistcoat was in the viscount’s employ, and these flowers were to be carried to his apartments.

However any signs of satisfaction would have seemed singular under the circumstances, and so he sulkily replied: “A glass of wine! you had better say two.” “Well, I’ll say a whole bottleful, my boy, if that suits you any better,” replied the servant, with the charming good-nature so often displayed by people who are giving other folk’s property away. “Then I’m at your service!” exclaimed Chupin. And, loading himself with a host of flower-pots as skilfully as if he had been accustomed to handling them all his life, he added: “Now, lead the way.” The valet and the concierge preceded him with empty hands, of course; and, on reaching the second floor, they opened a door, and said: “This is the place. de Coralth’s apartments were handsomer than his own in the Faubourg Saint Denis; but he had scarcely imagined such luxury as pervaded this establishment. The chandeliers seemed marvels in his eyes; and the sumptuous chairs and couches eclipsed M.

“So he no longer amuses himself with petty rascalities,” thought Chupin, as he surveyed the rooms. Decidedly this mustn’t be allowed to continue.” Thereupon he busied himself placing the flowers in the numerous jardinieres scattered about the rooms, as well as in a tiny conservatory, cleverly contrived on the balcony, and adjoining a little apartment with silk hangings, that was used as a smoking-room. Under the surveillance of the concierge and the valet he was allowed to visit the whole apartments. He admired the drawing-room, filled to overflowing with costly trifles; the dining-room, furnished in old oak; the luxurious bed-room with its bed mounted upon a platform, as if it were a throne, and the library filled with richly bound volumes. He would have preferred rather more simplicity, a trifle less satin, velvet, hangings, mirrors and gilding. Still this did not prevent him from going into ecstasies over each room he entered; and he expressed his admiration so artlessly that the valet, feeling as much flattered as if he were the owner of the place, took a sort of pride in exhibiting everything.

He showed Chupin the target which the viscount practised at with pistols for an hour every morning; for Monsieur le Vicomte was a capital marksman, and could lodge eight balls out of ten in the neck of a bottle at a distance of twenty paces. He took a lesson every day from one of the best fencing-masters in Paris; and his duels had always terminated fortunately. He also showed the viscount’s blue velvet dressing-gown, his fur-trimmed slippers, and even his elaborately embroidered night-shirts. But it was the dressing-room that most astonished and stupefied Chupin.

He stood gazing in open-mouthed wonder at the immense white marble table, with its water spigots and its basins, its sponges and boxes, its pots and vials and cups; and he counted the brushes by the dozen--brushes hard and soft, brushes for the hair, for the beard, for the hands, and the application of cosmetic to the mustaches and eyebrows.

“One might think oneself in a chiropodist’s, or a dentist’s establishment,” remarked Chupin to the servant. “Does your master use all these every day?” “Certainly, or rather twice a day--morning and evening--at his toilette.” Chupin expressed his feelings with a grimace and an exclamation of mocking wonder. His listeners laughed heartily; and the concierge, after exchanging a significant glance with the valet, said sotto voce, “Zounds! it’s his business to be a handsome fellow!” The mystery was solved. While Chupin changed the contents of the jardinieres, and remained upstairs in the intervals between the nine or ten journeys he made to the porte-cochere for more flowers, he listened attentively to the conversation between the concierge and the valet, and heard snatches of sentences that enlightened him wonderfully. Moreover, whenever a question arose as to placing a plant in one place rather than another, the valet stated as a conclusive argument that the baroness liked it in such or such a place, or that she would be better pleased with this or that arrangement, or that he must comply with the instructions she had given him. Chupin was therefore obliged to conclude that the flowers had been sent here by a baroness who possessed certain rights in the establishment.

He was manoeuvering cleverly in the hope of ascertaining this point, when a carriage was heard driving into the courtyard below. “Monsieur must have returned!” exclaimed the valet, darting to the window. Chupin also ran to look out, and saw a very elegant blue-lined brougham, drawn by a superb horse, but he did not perceive the viscount. de Coralth was already climbing the stairs, four at a time, and, a moment later, he entered the room, angrily exclaiming, “Florent, what does this mean? Why have you left all the doors open?” Florent was the servant in the red waistcoat. He slightly shrugged his shoulders like a servant who knows too many of his master’s secrets to have anything to fear, and in the calmest possible tone replied, “If the doors are open, it is only because the baroness has just sent some flowers. And I have been treating Father Moulinet and this worthy fellow” (pointing to Chupin) “to a glass of wine, to acknowledge their kindness in assisting me.” Fearing recognition, Chupin hid his face as much as possible; but M. de Coralth did not pay the slightest attention to him.

There was a dark frown on his handsome, usually smiling countenance, and his hair was in great disorder. “I am going out again,” he remarked to his valet, “but first of all I must write two letters which you must deliver immediately.” He passed into the drawing-room as he spoke, and Florent scarcely waited till the door was closed before uttering an oath. “May the devil take him!” he exclaimed. “Here he sets me on the go again. It is five o’clock, too, and I have an appointment in half an hour.” A sudden hope quickened the throbbings of Chupin’s heart. He touched the valet’s arm, and in his most persuasive tone remarked: “I’ve nothing to do, and as your wine was so good, I’ll do your errands for you, if you’ll pay me for the wear and tear of shoe-leather.” Chupin’s appearance must have inspired confidence, for the servant replied:--“Well--I don’t refuse--but we’ll see.” The viscount did not spend much time in writing; he speedily reappeared holding two letters which he flung upon the table, saying: “One of these is for the baroness. You must deliver it into HER hands or into the hands of her maid--there will be no answer.

You will afterward take the other to the person it is addressed to, and you must wait for an answer which you will place on my writing-table--and make haste.” So saying, the viscount went off as he had entered--on the run--and a moment later, his brougham was heard rolling out of the courtyard. “There,” said he, addressing Chupin rather than the concierge, “what did I tell you? A letter to be placed in madame’s own hands or in the hands of her maid, and to be concealed from the baron, who is on the watch, of course. Naturally no one can execute that commission but myself.” “That’s true!” replied Chupin; “but how about the other?” The valet had not yet examined the second letter. He now took it from the table, and glanced at the address. “Ah,” said he, “I can confide this one to you, my good fellow, and it’s very fortunate, for it is to be taken to a place on the other side of the river.

You manage your work so as to have a little leisure, and the moment you think yourself free, pouf!--they send you anywhere in creation without even asking if it suits your convenience. But, above all, don’t loiter on the way. And you heard him say there would be an answer. Besides, if you can extract anything from the party the letter’s intended for, you are quite welcome to it.” “Agreed, sir! Grant me time enough to give an answer to the lady who is waiting at the Madeleine, and I’m on my way.

Give me the letter.” “Here it is,” said the valet, handing it to Chupin. But as the latter glanced at the address he turned deadly pale, and his eyes almost started from their sockets. “What’s the matter with you?” asked the concierge and the valet in the same breath. His listeners thought he was only taking advantage of the need they had of his services--as was perfectly natural under the circumstances. So you are dissatisfied!” cried the valet. And, imitating the whistle of a locomotive with wonderful perfection, he darted away at a pace which augured a speedy return. However, when he was some twenty yards from the house he stopped short, glanced around him, and espying a dark corner slipped into it.

“That fool in the red waistcoat will be coming out to take the letter to that famous baroness,” he thought. I should like to find out the name of the kind and charitable lady who watches over his brigand of a master with such tender care.” The day and the hour were in his favor. Night was coming on, hastened by a thick fog; the street lamps were not yet lighted, and as it was Sunday most of the shops were closed. It grew dark so rapidly that Chupin was scarcely able to recognize Florent when he at last emerged from the house. It is true that he looked altogether unlike the servant in the red waist-coat. As he had the key to the wardrobe containing his master’s clothes, he did not hesitate to use them whenever an opportunity offered. The gorgeous Florent was ringing at the door of one of the most magnificent mansions in the Rue de la Ville l’Eveque. The door was opened, and he went in. The viscount and the baroness are shrewd. When you have flowers to send to anybody it’s convenient to be neighbors!” He glanced round, and seeing an old man smoking his pipe on the threshold of a shop, he approached him and asked politely “Can you tell me whom that big house belongs to?” “To Baron Trigault,” replied the man, without releasing his hold on his pipe.

“I inquired, because I think of buying a house.” And repeating the name of Trigault several times to impress it upon his memory he darted off on his errand. It might be supposed that his unexpected success had delighted him, but, on the contrary, it rendered him even more exacting.

The letter he carried burned his pocket like a red-hot iron. “Madame Paul,” he muttered, “that must be the rascal’s wife. First, Paul is his Christian name; secondly, I’ve been told that his wife keeps a tobacco shop--so the case is plain. But the strangest thing about it is that this husband and wife should write to each other, when I fancied them at dagger’s ends.” Chupin would have given a pint of his own blood to know the contents of the missive.

The idea of opening it occurred to him, and it must be confessed that it was not a feeling of delicacy that prevented him. He was deterred by a large seal which had been carefully affixed, and which would plainly furnish evidence if the letter were tampered with. Thus Chupin was punished for Florent’s faults, for this seal was the viscount’s’ invariable precaution against his servant’s prying curiosity. So our enterprising youth could only read and re-read the superscription and smell the paper, which was strongly scented with verbena.

He fancied that there was some mysterious connection between this letter intended for M. de Coralth’s wife and the missive sent to the baroness. Had they not both been written under the influence of anger? Still he failed to perceive any possible connection between the rich baroness and the poor tobacco dealer, and his cogitations only made him more perplexed than ever. However, his efforts to solve the mystery did not interfere with the free use of his limbs, and he soon found himself on the Quai de la Seine. “I’ve come more quickly than an omnibus.” The Quai de la Seine is a broad road, connecting the Rue de Flandres with the canal de l’Ourcq. On the left-hand side it is bordered with miserable shanties interspersed with some tiny shops, and several huge coal depots. On the right-hand side--that next to the canal--there are also a few provision stores. In the daytime there is no noisier nor livelier place than this same Quai; but nothing could be more gloomy at night-time when the shops are closed, when the few gas-lamps only increase the grimness of the shadows, and when the only sound that breaks the silence is the rippling of the water as its smooth surface is ruffled by some boatman propelling his skiff through the canal.

“The Viscount must certainly have made a mistake,” thought Chupin; “there is no such shop on the Quai.” He was wrong, however; for after passing the Rue de Soissons he espied the red lantern of a tobacco-shop, glimmering through the fog. Having almost reached the goal, Chupin slackened his pace. He approached the shop very cautiously and peered inside, deeming it prudent to reconnoitre a little before he went in. And certainly there was nothing to prevent a prolonged scrutiny. The night was very dark, the quay deserted. No one was to be seen; not a sound broke the stillness. The darkness, the surroundings, and the silence were sinister enough to make even Chupin shudder, though he was usually as thoroughly at home in the loneliest and most dangerous by-ways of Paris as an honest man of the middle classes would be in the different apartments of his modest household. And, in fact, nothing could be more repulsive than the tenement in which Madame Paul had installed herself.

It was but one story high, and built of clay, and it had fallen to ruin to such an extent that it had been found necessary to prop it up with timber, and to nail some old boards over the yawning fissures in the walls. The shop itself was of a fair size, but most wretched in its appointments, and disgustingly dirty.

The floor was covered with that black and glutinous coal-dust which forms the soil of the Quai de la Seine.

An auctioneer would have sold the entire stock and fixtures for a few shillings. Four stone jars, and a couple of pairs of scales, a few odd tumblers, filled with pipes and packets of cigarettes, some wine-glasses, and three or four labelled bottles, five or six boxes of cigars, and as many packages of musty tobacco, constituted the entire stock in trade. As Chupin compared this vile den with the viscount’s luxurious abode, his blood fairly boiled in his veins. Of her once remarkable beauty naught remained but her hair, which was still magnificent, though it was in wild disorder, and looked as if it had not been touched by a comb for weeks; and her big black eyes, which gleamed with the phosphorescent and destructive brilliancy of fever. If people didn’t clear the road it was so much the worse for them! She saw a handsome young fellow and wanted him for her husband; her father, who could refuse her nothing, consented, and now behold the result!” He had lingered longer at the window than he had meant to do, perhaps because he could see that the young woman was talking with some person in a back room, the door of which stood open. And this time her eyes, instead of turning to the open door, were fixed on a part of the shop directly opposite her. “Is there some one there as well, then?” Chupin wondered. He changed his post of observation, and, by standing on tiptoe, he succeeded in distinguishing a puny little boy, some three or four years old, and clad in rags, who was playing with the remnants of a toy-horse. The sight of this child increased Chupin’s indignation.

“So there’s a child?” he growled. “The rascal not only deserts his wife, but he leaves his child to starve! We may as well make a note of that: and when we settle up our accounts, he shall pay dearly for his villainy.” With this threat he brusquely entered the shop. “What do you wish, sir?” asked the woman. You must be mistaken.” “Excuse me; aren’t you Madame Paul?” “Yes.” “Then this is for you.” And he handed her the missive which Florent had confided to his care. Madame Paul took hold of it with some hesitation, eying the messenger suspiciously meanwhile; but, on seeing the handwriting, she uttered a cry of surprise. And, turning toward the open door, she called, “M. Come, come!” A bald-headed, corpulent man, who looked some fifty years of age, now timidly emerged from the room behind the shop with a cap in his hand.

Everything comes to those who know how to wait.” However she had already broken the seal, and she was now reading the letter eagerly, clapping her hands with delight as she finished its perusal. Mouchon could not read without his spectacles, and he lost at least two minutes in searching his pockets before he found them. And when they were adjusted, the light was so dim that it took him at least three minutes more to decipher the missive. Chupin had spent this time in scrutinizing--in appraising the man, as it were.

He’s married--there’s a wedding-ring on his finger; he has a daughter, for the ends of his necktie are embroidered. He lives in the neighborhood, for, well dressed as he is, he wears a cap. But what was he doing there in that back room in the dark?” Meanwhile M.

Mouchon had finished reading the letter. “Yes, you were right!” answered Madame Paul as she took up the letter and read it again with her eyes sparkling with joy. “Wait, shall I not?” “No, no!” exclaimed the elderly gentleman, in evident dismay. “You must strike the iron while it’s hot.” “But he promises me----” “To promise and to keep one’s promises are two different things.” “He wants a reply.” “Tell him----” But he stopped short, calling her attention with a gesture to the messenger, whose eyes were glittering with intense curiosity. So filling a glass with some liquor, she placed it before Chupin, and offered him a cigar, saying: “Take a seat--here’s something to keep you from feeling impatient while you wait here.” Thereupon she followed the old gentleman into the adjoining room, and closed the door. Even if Chupin had not possessed the precocious penetration he owed to his life of adventure, the young woman and the old gentleman had said enough to enable him to form a correct estimate of the situation. He was certain now that he knew the contents of the letter as perfectly as if he had read it.

Moreover, Chupin distinctly saw what connection there was between the letter to the baroness and the letter to Madame Paul.

He understood that one was the natural consequence of the other. The scandal won’t be of much use to me, it’s true, but at least I shall no longer be obliged to endure the torture of knowing that you are surrounded by every luxury while I am dying of starvation.” Yes, she had evidently written that. It might not be the precise text; but no doubt it was the purport of her letter. Charming young men like the Viscount de Coralth never have any money on hand. So, in this emergency, the dashing young fellow had written to his wife imploring her to have patience, and to the baroness, entreating, or rather commanding her to advance him a certain sum at once. This was no doubt the case, and yet there was one circumstance which puzzled Chupin exceedingly. In former years, he had heard it asserted that Mademoiselle Flavie was the very personification of pride, and that she adored her husband even to madness. If she were acquainted with her husband’s present life, how did it happen that she did not prefer starvation, or the alms-house and a pauper’s grave to his assistance? Chupin could understand how, in a moment of passion, she might be driven to denounce her husband in the presence of his fashionable acquaintances, how she might be impelled to ruin him so as to avenge herself; but he could not possibly understand how she could consent to profit by the ignominy of the man she loved.

“The plan isn’t hers,” said Chupin to himself, after a moment’s reflection. “It’s probably the work of that stout old gentleman.” There was a means of verifying his suspicions, for on returning into the adjoining room, Madame Paul had not taken her son with her. He was still sitting on the muddy floor of the shop, playing with his dilapidated horse. The child rose, and timidly approached, his eyes dilating with distrust and astonishment. The poor boy’s repulsive uncleanliness was a terrible charge against the mother.

The untidiness of sorrow and poverty has its bounds.

A long time must have passed since the child’s face and hands had been washed, and his soiled clothes were literally falling to rags.

Chupin took him on his knees, and, after looking to see if the door communicating with the inner room were securely closed, he asked: “What’s your name, little chap?” “Paul.” “Do you know your father?” “No.” “Doesn’t your mother ever talk to you about him?” “Oh, yes!” “And what does she say?” “That he’s rich--very rich.” “And what else?” The child did not reply; perhaps his mother had forbidden him to say anything on the subject--perhaps that instinct which precedes intelligence, just as the dawn precedes daylight, warned him to be prudent with a stranger. We shall be all right, then; and he will give us a deal of money and pretty dresses, and I shall have plenty of toys.” Satisfied on this point, Chupin, pushed his investigations farther. “And do you know this old gentleman who is with your mamma in the other room?” “Oh, yes!--that’s Mouchon.” “And who’s Mouchon?” “He’s the gentleman who owns that beautiful garden at the corner of the Rue Riquet, where there are such splendid grapes. He always has goodies in his pocket for mamma and me.” “Why does he sit in that back room without any light?” “Oh, he says that the customers mustn’t see him.” It would have been an abominable act to continue this examination, and make this child the innocent accuser of his own mother. So he kissed the cleanest spot he could find on the boy’s face, and set him on the floor again, saying, “Go and play.” The child had revealed his mother’s character with cruel precision. What had she told him about his father? That he was rich, and that, in case he returned, he would give them plenty of money and fine clothes. The woman’s nature stood revealed in all its deformity. He had recognized him as one of those wily evil-minded men who employ their leisure to the profit of their depravity--one of those patient, cold-blooded hypocrites who make poverty their purveyor, and whose passion is prodigal only in advice.

The old villain!

He emptied the glass at a single draught, but it proved far more difficult to light the cigar. “When I arrive at smoking ten sous cigars, I sha’n’t come here to buy them.” However, with the help of several matches and a great deal of drawing, he had almost succeeded, when the door opened, and Madame Paul reappeared with a letter in her hand. “I can’t decide,” she was saying to Mouchon, whose figure Chupin could only dimly distinguish in the darkness. Whatever happens, he will never forgive me.” “He can’t treat you worse than he does now, at all events,” replied the old gentleman. “Besides, a gloved cat has never caught a mouse yet.” “He’ll hate me.” “The man who wants his dog to love him, beats it; and, besides, when the wine is drawn, one must drink it.” This singular logic seemed to decide her.

She handed the letter to Chupin, and drawing a franc from her pocket she offered it to him. He involuntarily held out his hand to take the money, but quickly withdrew it, exclaiming: “No, thank you; keep it. I’ve been paid already.” And, thereupon, he left the shop. Chupin’s mother--his poor good mother, as he called her--would certainly have felt proud and delighted at her son’s disinterestedness. That very morning, he had refused the ten francs a day that M.

Fortunat had offered him, and this evening he declined the twenty sous proffered him by Madame Paul. This was apparently a trifle, and yet in reality it was something marvellous, unprecedented, on the part of this poor lad, who, having neither trade nor profession, was obliged to earn his daily bread through the medium of those chance opportunities which the lower classes of Paris are continually seeking. As he returned to the Rue de Flandres, he muttered: “Take twenty sous from that poor creature, who hasn’t had enough to satisfy her hunger for heaven knows how long! That would be altogether unworthy of a man.” It is only just to say that money had never given him a feeling of satisfaction at all comparable with that which he now experienced. He was impressed, too, with a sense of vastly-increased importance on thinking that all the faculties, and all the energy he had once employed in the service of evil, were now consecrated to the service of good. By becoming the instrument of Pascal Ferailleur’s salvation he would, in some measure, atone for the crime he had committed years before.

Chupin’s mind was so busily occupied with these thoughts that he reached the Rue d’Anjou and M. To his great surprise, the concierge and his wife were not alone. Florent was there, taking coffee with them. The valet had divested himself of his borrowed finery, and had donned his red waistcoat again. He seemed to be in a savage humor; and his anger was not at all strange under the circumstances. There was but a step from M. de Coralth’s house to the baroness’s residence, but fatalities may attend even a step! The baroness, on receiving the letter from her maid, had sent a message to Florent requesting him to wait, as she desired to speak with him!

and she had been so inconsiderate as to keep him waiting for more than an hour, so that he had missed his appointment with the charming ladies he had spoken of. In his despair he had returned home to seek consolation in the society of his friend the concierge. “Have you the answer?” he asked. “Yes, here it is,” replied Chupin, and Florent had just slipped the letter into his pocket, and was engaged in counting out the thirty sous which he had promised his messenger, when the familiar cry, “Open, please,” was heard outside. He sprang to the ground as soon as the carriage entered the courtyard, and on perceiving his servant, he exclaimed: “Have you executed my commissions?” “They have been executed, monsieur.” “Did you see the baroness?” “She made me wait two hours to tell me that the viscount need not be worried in the least; that she would certainly be able to comply with his request to-morrow.” M. de Coralth seemed to breathe more freely.

“And the other party?” he inquired. “Gave me this for monsieur.” The viscount seized the missive, with an eager hand, tore it open, read it at one glance, and flew into such a paroxysm of passion that he quite forgot those around him, and began to tear the letter, and utter a string of oaths which would have astonished a cab-driver. these women!

they are enough to drive one mad!” And deeming this a sufficient explanation, he added, addressing Florent. “Come and undress me; I must be up early to-morrow morning.” This remark was not lost upon Chupin, and at seven o’clock the next morning he mounted guard at M. All through the day he followed the viscount about, first to the Marquis de Valorsay’s, then to the office of a business agent, then to M. Wilkie’s, then, in the afternoon, to Baroness Trigault’s, and finally, in the evening, to the house of Madame d’Argeles. Here, by making himself useful to the servants, by his zeal in opening and shutting the doors of the carriages that left the house, he succeeded in gathering some information concerning the frightful scene which had taken place between the mother and the son. Wilkie leave the house with his clothes in disorder, and subsequently he saw the viscount emerge.

He followed him, first to the house of the Marquis de Valorsay, and afterward to M. Fortunat’s office at two o’clock on the Tuesday afternoon, he felt that he held every possible clue to the shameful intrigue which would ruin the viscount as soon as it was made public.

But he had not time to explain how or why, for just as he was about to do so, Madame Dodelin appeared, and announced that the young lady he expected was there. The General had decamped early in the morning to try his horses and his carriages, announcing, moreover, that he would breakfast at the club. And as soon as her breakfast was concluded, Madame de Fondege had hurried off to her dressmaker’s, warning the household that she would not return before dinner-time. Jodon’s and thence to the Marquis de Valorsay’s. Thus, Mademoiselle Marguerite had been able to make her escape without attracting any one’s attention, and she would be able to remain away as many hours as she chose, since the servants would not know how long she had been absent even if they saw her when she returned. An empty cab was passing as she left the house, so she hailed it and got in. The step she was about to take cost her a terrible effort. Still, she was much calmer than she had been on the previous evening, when she called on the photographer for a facsimile of M.

Fortunat knew her already, since he was the agent whom the Count de Chalusse had employed to carry on the investigations which had resulted in her discovery at the foundling asylum. A vague presentiment told her that this man was better acquainted with her past life than she was herself, and that he could, if he chose, tell her her mother’s name--the name of the woman whom the count so dreaded, and who had so pitilessly deserted her. She took in the room and its occupants with a single glance. The handsome appointments of the office surprised her, for she had expected to see a den. The agent’s polite manner and rather elegant appearance disconcerted her, for she had expected to meet a coarse and illiterate boor; and finally, Victor Chupin, who was standing twisting his cap near the fireplace, attired in a blouse and a pair of ragged trousers, fairly alarmed her. Not a muscle of her beautiful, proud face moved--her glance remained clear and haughty, and she exclaimed in a ringing voice: “I am the late Count de Chalusse’s ward, Mademoiselle Marguerite. Fortunat bowed with all the grace of manner he was wont to display in the circles where he went wife-hunting, and with a somewhat pretentious gesture he advanced an arm-chair, and asked his visitor to sit down. My door, indeed, was closed to any one but you.” Marguerite took the proffered seat, and there was a moment’s silence. Fortunat found it difficult to believe that this beautiful, imposing young girl could be the poor little apprentice whom he had seen in the book-bindery, years before, clad in a coarse serge frock, with dishevelled hair covered with scraps of paper. In the meantime, Marguerite was regretting the necessity of confiding in this man, for the more she looked at him, the more she was convinced that he was not an honest, straightforward person; and she would infinitely have preferred a cynical scoundrel to this plausible and polite gentleman, whom she strongly suspected of being a hypocrite.

Fortunat to dismiss the young man in the blouse, whose presence she could not explain, and who stood in a sort of mute ecstasy, staring at her with eyes expressive of the most intense surprise and the liveliest admiration. But weary at last of this fruitless delay, she exclaimed: “I have come, monsieur, to confer with you respecting certain matters which require the most profound secrecy.” Chupin understood her, for he blushed to the tips of his ears, and started as if to leave the room. He knows everything, and he has already been actively at work--and with the best result--on your behalf.” “I don’t understand you, sir,” replied the girl. “An hour after the receipt of your letter I began the campaign.” “But I had not told you----” “What you wished of me--that’s true. But I allowed myself to suspect----” “Ah!” “I fancied I might conclude that you wished the help of my experience and poor ability in clearing an innocent man who has been vilely slandered, M. Fortunat had left his arm-chair, and was now leaning against the mantel-shelf, in what he considered a most becoming and awe-inspiring attitude, with his thumb in the armhole of his waistcoat. nothing could be more simple,” he answered, in much the same tone as a conqueror might assume to explain his feat. “It is part of my profession to penetrate the intentions of persons who deign to honor me with their confidence. So my surmises are correct; at least you have not said the contrary?” She had said nothing.

Meanwhile, delighted by the supposed effect he had produced, he recklessly continued: “Reserve your amazement for what I am about to disclose, for I have made several important discoveries. It must have been your good angel who inspired you with the idea of coming to me. You would have shuddered if you had realized the dangers that threatened you. I am here, and I hold in my hand all the threads of the abominable intrigue for ruining you. And I can tell you the names of the scoundrels who ruined him. The crime originated with the person who had the most powerful interest in the matter--the Marquis de Valorsay. His agent was a scoundrel who is generally known as the Viscount de Coralth; but Chupin here can tell you his real name and his shameful past. Ferailleur, hence it was necessary to put him out of the way.

de Chalusse had promised your hand to the Marquis de Valorsay.

This marriage was Valorsay’s only resource--the plank that might save the drowning man. He was in such desperate straits that he had almost determined to blow his brains out before the hope of marrying you entered his mind.” “Ah!” thought Chupin, “my employer is well under way.” This was indeed the case.

The name of Valorsay was quite sufficient to set all M. Unfortunately for him, however, his anger in the present instance had ruined his plans.

He had intended to take Mademoiselle Marguerite by surprise, to work upon her imagination, to make her talk without saying anything himself, and to remain master of the situation. But on the contrary he had revealed everything; and he did not discover this until it was too late to retrieve his blunder. “How the Marquis de Valorsay has kept his head above water is a wonder to me,” he continued. How he has been able to keep them quiet since M. However, this much is certain, mademoiselle: the marquis has not renounced his intention of becoming your husband; and to attain that object he won’t hesitate to employ any means that may promise to prove effectual.” Completely mistress of herself, Mademoiselle Marguerite listened with an impassive face. you know----” “Yes; but there is one thing that baffles my powers of comprehension. My dowry was the only temptation to M. “I have asked myself the same question,” he replied, “and I think I have found an answer. I believe that the marquis has in his possession a letter, or a will, or a document of some sort, written by M. de Chalusse--in fact an instrument in which the count acknowledges you as his daughter, and which consequently establishes; your right to his property.” “And the marquis could urge this claim if he became my husband?” “Certainly he could.” M.

de Valorsay’s conduct exactly as the old magistrate had done. The great interest that M. Fortunat seemed to take in her affairs aroused her distrust; and she decided to do what he had attempted in vain--that is, allow him to do all the talking, and to conceal all that she knew herself. “Perhaps you are right,” she remarked, “but it is necessary to prove the truth of your assertion.” “I can prove that Valorsay hasn’t a shilling, and that he has lived for a year by expedients which render him liable to arrest and prosecution at any time. Wouldn’t this be something?” She smiled in a way that was exceedingly irritating to his vanity, and in a tone of good-natured incredulity, she remarked: “It is easy to SAY these things.” “And to do them,” rejoined M. But a man cannot always be on the qui vive. There will be a word in one letter, a sentence in another, an allusion in a third. And by combining these words, phrases, and allusions, one may finally discover the truth.” He suddenly checked himself, warned of his fresh imprudence by the expression on Mademoiselle Marguerite’s face. She drew back, and looking him full in the eyes, she exclaimed: “Then you have been in M.

“Hit!” he thought--“hit just in the bull’s-eye. there’s a woman for you! She has beaten the guv’nor on every point.” M. Perhaps it would be more correct to say that it is a transaction in which one person tries to cheat the other.

The fathers-in-law are deceived, or the husband, or the wife, and sometimes all of them together. Chupin feared so, and accordingly turning quickly to his employer, he remarked: “To say nothing of the fact that this fine gentleman has swindled you outrageously, shrewd as you are--cheating you out of the forty thousand francs you lent him, and which he was to pay you eighty thousand for.” M. Fortunat cast a withering look at his clerk, but the mischief was done: denial was useless. Her scorn for the man was only increased; but she was convinced that he would serve her faithfully. I desire the rehabilitation of M. Ferailleur’s wishes.” “They cannot be considered.” “And why?” “Because no one knows what has become of him. When the desire for revenge first took possession of me, I at once thought of him. I procured his address, and went to the Rue d’Ulm. The very day after his misfortune, M. Ferailleur sold his furniture and went away with his mother.” “I am aware of that, and I have come to ask you to search for him.

By questioning the people in the neighborhood I finally succeeded in ascertaining that Madame Ferailleur left her home in a cab several hours after her son, and took a very large quantity of baggage with her. To the Western railway station. I am sure of this, and I know she told a porter there that her destination was London. “There can be no mistake about what I have just told you.” “I don’t question the result of your investigations, but appearances are deceitful. Ferailleur’s character, and he is not the man to be crushed by an infamous calumny. Pascal, who is energy itself, who possesses an iron will, and invincible determination, would he renounce his honor, his future, and the woman he loves without a struggle? Still there was one person present who was deeply impressed by the confidence of this young girl, who was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen, and whose devotion and energy filled his heart with admiration, and this person was Chupin. And I shall be unworthy of the name of Chupin, if I don’t find him for you in less than a fortnight!” XII. Suddenly struck down in the full sunlight of happiness by a terrible misfortune, he, of course, experienced moments of frenzy and terrible depression; but he was incapable of the cowardice which M.

Mademoiselle Marguerite only did him justice when she said that the sole condition on which he could consent to live was that of consecrating his life, and all his strength, intelligence and will to confounding this infamous calumny.

And still she did not know the extent of Pascal’s misfortune. How could she know the doubts and fears and the anguish that had been roused in his heart by the note which Madame Leon had given him at the garden gate? What did she know of the poignant suspicions that had rent his mind, after listening to Madame Vantrasson’s disparaging insinuations? It must be admitted that he was indebted to his mother alone for his escape from suicide--that grim madness that seizes hold of so many desperate, despairing men.

And it was still to his mother--the incomparable guardian of his honor--that he owed his resolution on the morning he applied to Baron Trigault. He was no longer the same man when he left the princely mansion which he had entered with his heart so full of anguish.

He was still somewhat bewildered with the strange scenes which he had involuntarily witnessed, the secrets he had overheard, and the revelations which had been made to him; but a light gleamed on the horizon--a fitful and uncertain light, it is true, but nevertheless a hopeful gleam. Thanks to this man whom misfortune had made a truer friend than years could have done, he would have access to the wretch who had deprived him both of his honor and of the woman he loved. He knew the weak spot in the marquis’s armor now; he knew where and how to strike, and he felt sure that he should succeed in winning Valorsay’s confidence, and in obtaining irrefutable proofs of his villainy. Pascal was eager to inform his mother of the fortunate result of his visit, but certain arrangements which were needful for the success of his plans required his attention, and it was nearly five o’clock when he reached the Route de la Revolte. The cab she had used was still standing before the door, and she had not had time to take off her shawl and bonnet when he entered the house. She was so accustomed to read his secret thoughts on his face, that it was unnecessary for him to say a word; before he had even opened his lips, she cried: “So you have succeeded?” “Yes, mother, beyond my hopes.” “I was not deceived, then, in the worthy man who came to offer us his assistance?” “No, certainly not. If you knew, my dear mother, if you only knew----” “What?” He kissed her as if he wished to apologize for what he was about to say, and then he quickly replied: “Marguerite is the daughter of Baroness Trigault.” Madame Ferailleur started back, as if she had seen a reptile spring up in her pathway. “The daughter of the baroness!” she faltered.

“Great Heavens!” “It is the truth, mother; listen to me.” And in a voice that trembled with emotion, he rapidly related all he had learned by his visit to the baron, softening the truth as much as he could without concealing it. Madame Ferailleur’s indignation and disgust were none the less evident. He knew only too well that his mother was right, and yet it wounded him cruelly to hear her speak in this style. For the baroness was Marguerite’s mother after all.

“So,” continued Madame Ferailleur, with increasing indignation, “creatures do exist who are destitute even of the maternal instincts of animals. I am an honest woman myself; I don’t say it in self-glorification, it’s no credit to me; my mother was a saint, and I loved my husband; what some people call duty was my happiness, so I may be allowed to speak on this subject. Yes, I can understand how a beautiful young woman, who is left alone in a city like Paris, may lose her senses, and forget the worthy man who has exiled himself for her sake, and who is braving a thousand dangers to win a fortune for her. The husband who exposes his honor and happiness to such terrible risk, is an imprudent man. There is nothing human in her! For how could she live, how could she sleep with the thought that somewhere in the world her own child, the flesh of her flesh, was exposed to all the temptations of poverty, and the horrors of shame and vice? And she, the possessor of millions, she, the inmate of a palace, thinking only of dress and pleasure! Has she shelter, clothes and food? On seeing the poor wretches who have been driven to vice by want, how can she fail to say to herself: ‘That, perhaps, is my daughter!’” Pascal turned pale, moved to the depths of his soul by his mother’s extraordinary vehemence. He trembled lest she should say: “And you, my son, would you marry the child of such a mother?” For he knew his mother’s prejudices, and the great importance she attached to a spotless reputation transmitted from parent to child, from generation to generation.

“The baroness knew that her husband adored her, and hearing of his return she became terrified; she lost her senses,” he ventured to say in extenuation. “Do you really think one can atone for a fault by a crime?” “No, certainly not, but----” “Perhaps you would censure the baroness more severely if you knew what her daughter has suffered--if you knew the perils and miseries she has been exposed to from the moment her mother left her on a door-step, near the central markets, till the day when her father found her.

It is a miracle that she did not perish.” Where had Madame Ferailleur learned these particulars? “I don’t understand you, mother,” he faltered. “Then you know nothing of Mademoiselle Marguerite’s past life. Is it possible she never told you anything about it?” “I only know that she has been very unhappy.” “Has she never alluded to the time when she was an apprentice?” “She has only told me that she earned her living with her own hands at one time of her life.” “Well, I am better informed on the subject.” Pascal’s amazement was changed to terror. “You, mother, you!” “Yes; I--I have been to the asylum where she was received and educated.

I have had a conversation with two Sisters of Charity who remember her, and it is scarcely an hour since I left the people to whom she was formerly bound as an apprentice.” Standing opposite his mother with one hand convulsively clutching the back of the chair he was leaning on, Pascal tried to nerve himself for some terrible blow.

Did not his whole future depend upon the revelations Madame Ferailleur was about to make?

“So this was your object in going out, mother?” he faltered. you love a young girl, you swear in my presence that she shall be your wife, and you think it strange that I should try to ascertain whether she is worthy of you or not? It would be very strange if I did not do so.” “This idea occurred to you so suddenly!” Madame Ferailleur gave an almost imperceptible shrug of the shoulders, as if she were astonished to have to answer such puerile objections. “Have you already forgotten the disparaging remarks made by our new servant, Madame Vantrasson?” “Good Heavens!” “I understood her base insinuations as well as you did, and after your departure I questioned her, or rather I allowed her to tell her story, and I ascertained that Mademoiselle Marguerite had once been an apprentice of Vantrasson’s brother-in-law, a man named Greloux, who was formerly a bookbinder in the Rue Saint-Denis, but who has now retired from business. It was there that Vantrasson met Mademoiselle Marguerite, and this is why he was so greatly surprised to see her doing the mistress at the Hotel de Chalusse.” It seemed to Pascal that the throbbing of his heart stopped his breath.

“By a little tact I obtained the Greloux’s address from Madame Vantrasson,” resumed his mother. “Then I sent for a cab and drove there at once.” “And you saw them?” “Yes; thanks to a falsehood which doesn’t trouble my conscience much, I succeeded in effecting an entrance, and had an hour’s conversation with them.” His mother’s icy tones frightened Pascal. “The Greloux family,” she continued, “seem to be what are called worthy people, that is, incapable of committing any crime that is punishable by the code, and very proud of their income of seven thousand francs a year. They must have been very much attached to Mademoiselle Marguerite, for they were lavish in their protestations of affection when I mentioned her name. The husband in particular seemed to regard her with a feeling of something like gratitude.” “Ah!

you see, mother, you see!” “As for the wife, it was easy to see that she had sincerely regretted the loss of the best apprentice, the most honest servant, and the best worker she had ever seen in her life. And yet, from her own story, I should be willing to swear that she had abused the poor child, and had made a slave of her.” Tears glittered in Pascal’s eyes, but he breathed freely once more. This man, who has since become an infamous scoundrel, was then only a rake, an unprincipled drunkard and libertine. He fancied the poor little apprentice--she was then but thirteen years old--would be only too glad to become the mistress of her employer’s brother; but she scornfully repulsed him, and his vanity was so deeply wounded that he persecuted the poor girl to such an extent that she was obliged to complain, first to Madame Greloux, who--to her shame be it said--treated these insults as mere nonsense; and afterward to Greloux himself, who was probably delighted to have an opportunity of ridding himself of his indolent brother-in-law, for he turned him out of the house.” The thought that so vile a rascal as this man Vantrasson should have dared to insult Marguerite made Pascal frantic with indignation. “The wretch!” he exclaimed; “the wretch!” But without seeming to notice her son’s anger, Madame Ferailleur continued: “They pretended they had not seen their former apprentice since she had been living in grandeur, as they expressed it.

But in this they lied to me.

For they saw her at least once, and that was on the day she brought them twenty thousand francs, which proved the nucleus of their fortune. They did not mention this fact, however.” “Dear Marguerite!” murmured Pascal, “dear Marguerite!” And then aloud: “But where did you learn these last details, mother?” he inquired.

“At the asylum where Mademoiselle Marguerite was brought up, and there, too, I only heard words of praise. ‘Never,’ said the superior, ‘have I had a more gifted, sweeter-tempered or more attractive charge.’ They had reproached her sometimes for being too reserved, and her self-respect had often been mistaken for inordinate pride; but she had not forgotten the asylum any more than she had forgotten her former patrons. On one occasion the superior received from her the sum of twenty-five thousand francs, and a year ago she presented the institution with one hundred thousand francs, the yearly income of which is to constitute the marriage dowry of some deserving orphan.” Pascal was greatly elated. “Well, mother!” he exclaimed, “well, is it strange that I love her?” Madame Ferailleur made no reply, and a sorrowful apprehension seized hold of him. When the blessed day that will allow me to wed Marguerite arrives, you surely won’t oppose our marriage?” “No, my son, nothing that I have learned gives me the right to do so.” “The right! Ah, you are unjust, mother.” “Unjust! “Do you think,” she interrupted, “that I can, without sorrow, see you choose a girl of no family, a girl who is outside the pale of social recognition? Don’t you understand my disquietude when I think that the girl that you will marry is the daughter of such a woman as Baroness Trigault, an unfortunate girl whom her mother cannot even recognize, since her mother is a married woman----” “Ah! mother, is that Marguerite’s fault?” “Did I say it was her fault? “Mother!” he said in a quivering voice, “mother!” “I mean that you will only know so much of Mademoiselle Marguerite’s past life as she may choose to tell you,” continued the obdurate old lady.

It has been said that she was the mistress, not the daughter, of the Count de Chalusse. I would have my son’s wife above suspicion; and she--why, there is not a single episode in her life that does not expose her to the most atrocious calumny.” “What does calumny matter? The misfortunes which you reproach Marguerite for sanctify her in my eyes.” “Pascal!” “What!

Am I to despise her because her MOTHER is a despicable woman? the day when illegitimate children, the innocent victims of their mother’s faults, were branded as outcasts, is past.” But Madame Ferailleur’s prejudices were too deeply rooted to be shaken by these arguments. By declaring children irresponsible for their mother’s faults, you will break the strongest tie that binds a woman to duty. If the son of a pure and virtuous wife, and the son of an adulterous woman meet upon equal ground, those who are held in check only by the thought of their