Part 10 out of 12
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. The bees were humming among
a few flowers placed in pots outside the window; the birds were singing
in the garden, and the faint intermittent jingle of a tuneless piano
in some neighbouring house forced itself now and again on the ear.
In any other place, these everyday sounds might have spoken pleasantly
of the everyday world outside. Here, they came in as intruders on a
silence which nothing but human suffering had the privilege to disturb.
I looked at the mahogany instrument case, and at the huge roll of lint,
occupying places of their own on the book-shelves, and shuddered inwardly
as I thought of the sounds, familiar and appropriate to the everyday use of
Ezra Jennings' room.
"I make no apology, Mr. Blake, for the place in which I am
receiving you," he said. "It is the only room in the house,
at this hour of the day, in which we can feel quite sure
of being left undisturbed. Here are my papers ready for you;
and here are two books to which we may have 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.
They consisted of two large folio leaves of paper. One leaf contained writing
which only covered the surface at intervals. The other presented writing,
in red and black ink, which completely filled the page from top to bottom.
In the irritated state of my curiosity, at that moment, I laid aside the
second sheet of paper in despair.
"Have some mercy on me!" I said. "Tell me what I am to expect,
before I attempt to read this."
"Willingly, Mr. Blake! Do you mind my asking you one or two more questions?"
"Ask me anything you like!"
He looked at me with the sad smile on his lips, and the kindly interest
in his soft brown eyes.
"You have already told me," he said, "that you have never--
to your knowledge--tasted opium in your life."
"To my knowledge," I repeated.
"You will understand directly why I speak with that reservation.
Let us go on. You are not aware of ever having taken opium.
At this time, last year, you were suffering from nervous irritation,
and you slept wretchedly at night. On the night of the birthday, however,
there was an exception to the rule--you slept soundly. Am I right,
"Can you assign any cause for the nervous suffering, and your want of sleep?"
"I can assign no cause. Old Betteredge made a guess at the cause,
I remember. But that is hardly worth mentioning."
"Pardon me. Anything is worth mentioning in such a case as this.
Betteredge attributed your sleeplessness to something.
"To my leaving off smoking."
"Had you been an habitual smoker?"
"Did you leave off the habit suddenly?"
"Betteredge was perfectly right, Mr. Blake. 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. Candy. Do you remember
having entered into anything like a dispute with him--
at the birthday dinner, or afterwards--on the subject of
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. Candy and myself,
will be found described at much greater length than it
deserves in the tenth chapter of Betteredge's Narrative.
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. Candy out of temper for the moment.
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.
"There is one thing more," said Ezra Jennings, "which it is very important
I should know. Had you any reason for feeling any special anxiety about
the Diamond, at this time last year?"
"I had the strongest reasons for feeling anxiety about the Diamond.
I knew it to be the object of a conspiracy; and I was warned
to take measures for Miss Verinder's 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?"
Ezra Jennings took up his notes from the table, and placed them in my hands.
"Mr. Blake," he said, "if you read those notes now, by the light
which my questions and your answers have thrown on them,
you will make two astounding discoveries concerning yourself.
You will find--First, that you entered Miss 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.
"Try and forgive poor Mr. Candy," said the assistant gently.
"He has done dreadful mischief, I own; but he has done it innocently.
If you will look at the notes, you will see that--but for his illness--
he would have returned to Lady Verinder's the morning after the party,
and would have acknowledged the trick that he had played you.
Miss Verinder would have heard of it, and Miss Verinder would have
questioned him--and the truth which has laid hidden for a year would have
been discovered in a day."
I began to regain my self-possession. "Mr. Candy is beyond the reach
of my resentment," I said angrily. "But the trick that he played me
is not the less an act of treachery, for all that. I may forgive,
but I shall not forget it."
"Every medical man commits that act of treachery, Mr. Blake, in the
course of his practice. The ignorant distrust of opium (in England)
is by no means confined to the lower and less cultivated classes.
Every doctor in large practice finds himself, every now and then,
obliged to deceive his patients, as Mr. Candy deceived you.
I don't defend the folly of playing you a trick under the circumstances.
I only plead with you for a more accurate and more merciful construction
"How was it done?" I asked. "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. Candy's lips, all through his illness.
Perhaps your own memory may point to the person to be suspected."
"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. Read my notes,
if you can. Familiarise your mind with what has happened in the past.
I have something very bold and very startling to propose to you,
which relates to the future."
Those last words roused me.
I looked at the papers, in the order in which Ezra Jennings
had placed them in my hands. The paper which contained
the smaller quantity of writing was the uppermost of the two.
On this, the disconnected words, and fragments of sentences,
which had dropped from Mr. Candy in his delirium, appeared
"... Mr. Franklin Blake ... and agreeable ... down a peg ... medicine ...
confesses ... sleep at night ... tell him ... out of order ... medicine ...
he tells me ... and groping in the dark mean one and the same thing ...
all the company at the dinner-table ... I say ... groping after sleep ...
nothing but medicine ... he says ... leading the blind ... know what it means
... witty ... a night's rest in spite of his teeth ... wants sleep ... Lady
Verinder's medicine chest ... five-and-twenty minims ... without his knowing
it ... to-morrow morning ... Well, Mr. Blake ... medicine to-day ... never
... without it ... out, Mr. Candy ... excellent ... without it ... down on
him ... truth ... something besides ... excellent ... dose of laudanum,
sir ... bed ... what ... medicine now."
There, the first of the two sheets of paper came to an end.
I handed it back to Ezra Jennings.
"That is what you heard at his bedside?" I said.
"Literally and exactly what I heard," he answered--"except that
the repetitions are not transferred here from my short-hand notes.
He reiterated certain words and phrases a dozen times over,
fifty times over, just as he attached more or less importance
to the idea which they represented. The repetitions, in this sense,
were of some assistance to me in putting together those fragments.
Don't suppose," he added, pointing to the second sheet of paper, "that I
claim to have reproduced the expressions which Mr. Candy himself would
have used if he had been capable of speaking connectedly. I only say
that I have penetrated through the obstacle of the disconnected expression,
to the thought which was underlying it connectedly all the time.
Judge for yourself."
I turned to the second sheet of paper, which I now knew to be the key
to the first.
Once more, Mr. Candy's wanderings appeared, copied in black ink;
the intervals between the phrases being filled up by Ezra Jennings
in red ink. I reproduce the result here, in one plain form;
the original language and the interpretation of it coming close enough
together in these pages to be easily compared and verified.
"... Mr. Franklin Blake is clever and agreeable, but he wants
taking down a peg when he talks of medicine. He confesses
that he has been suffering from want of sleep at night.
I tell him that his nerves are out of order, and that he ought
to take medicine. He tells me that taking medicine and groping
in the dark mean one and the same thing. This before all
the company at the dinner-table. I say to him, you are groping
after sleep, and nothing but medicine can help you to find it.
He says to me, I have heard of the blind leading the blind,
and now I know what it means. Witty--but I can give him
a night's rest in spite of his teeth. He really wants sleep;
and Lady Verinder's medicine chest is at my disposal.
Give him five-and-twenty minims of laudanum to-night, without his
knowing it; and then call to-morrow morning. 'Well, Mr. Blake,
will you try a little medicine to-day? You will never sleep without
it.'--'There you are out, Mr. Candy: I have had an excellent
night's rest without it.' Then, come down on him with the truth!
'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.
He modestly interrupted the first few words in which my sense
of surprise expressed itself, by asking me if the conclusion which
he had drawn from his notes was also the conclusion at which my own
mind had arrived.
"Do you believe as I believe," he said, "that you were acting
under the influence of the laudanum in doing all that you did,
on the night of Miss Verinder's birthday, in Lady Verinder's house?"
"I am too ignorant of the influence of laudanum to have an opinion of my own,"
I answered. "I can only follow your opinion, and feel convinced that you
"Very well. The next question is this. 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.
Ezra Jennings shook his head.
"Useless, Mr. Blake! Quite useless, as they stand now for three
unanswerable reasons. In the first place, those notes have been
taken under circumstances entirely out of the experience of the mass
of mankind. Against them, to begin with! In the second place,
those notes represent a medical and metaphysical theory. Against them,
once more! In the third place, those notes are of my making;
there is nothing but my assertion to the contrary, to guarantee
that they are not fabrications. Remember what I told you on the moor--
and ask yourself what my assertion is worth. No! my notes have
but one value, looking to the verdict of 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
"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. "And, come what may,
I'll do it."
"You shall do this, Mr. Blake," he answered. "You shall steal
the Diamond, unconsciously, for the second time, in the presence
of witnesses whose testimony is beyond dispute."
I started to my feet. I tried to speak. I could only look at him.
"I believe it CAN be done," he went on. "And it shall be done--
if you will only help me. Try to compose yourself--sit down,
and hear what I have to say to you. You have resumed the habit
of smoking; I have seen that for myself. How long have you
"For nearly a year."
"Do you smoke more or less than you did?"
"Will you give up the habit again? Suddenly, mind!--as you gave
it up before."
I began dimly to see his drift. "I will give it up, from this moment,"
"If the same consequences follow, which followed last June,"
said Ezra Jennings--"if you suffer once more as you suffered then,
from sleepless nights, we shall have gained our first step.
We shall have put you back again into something assimilating to your
nervous condition on the birthday night. If we can next revive,
or nearly revive, the domestic circumstances which surrounded you;
and if we can occupy your mind again with the various questions
concerning the Diamond which formerly agitated it, we shall
have replaced you, as nearly as possible in the same position,
physically and morally, in which the opium found you last year.
In that case we may fairly hope that a repetition of the dose will lead,
in a greater or lesser degree, to a repetition of the result.
There is my proposal, expressed in a few hasty words. 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.
Admitted principles, and recognised authorities, justify me
in the view that I take. Give me five minutes of your attention;
and I will undertake to show you that Science sanctions
my proposal, fanciful as it may seem. Here, in the first place,
is the physiological principle on which I am acting,
stated by no less a person than Dr. Carpenter. Read it
He handed me the slip of paper which had marked the place in the book.
It contained a few lines of writing, as follows:--
"There seems much ground for the belief, that every 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.
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. Observe, Mr. Blake, before you begin, that I
am now referring you to one of the greatest of English physiologists.
The book in your hand is Doctor Elliotson's HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY;
and the case which the doctor cites rests on the well-known authority of
The passage pointed out to me was expressed in these terms :--
"Dr. Abel informed me," says Mr. Combe, "of an Irish porter to a warehouse,
who forgot, when sober, what he had done when drunk; but, being drunk,
again recollected the transactions of his former state of intoxication.
On one occasion, being drunk, he had lost a parcel of some value, and in his
sober moments could give no account of it. Next time he was intoxicated,
he recollected that he had left the parcel at a certain house, and there being
no address on it, it had remained there safely, and was got on his calling
"Plain again?" asked Ezra Jennings.
"As plain as need be."
He put back the slip of paper in its place, and closed the book.
"Are you satisfied that I have not spoken without good authority to
support me?" he asked. "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.
If we could, this year, exactly reproduce, in your case,
the conditions as they existed last year, it is physiologically
certain that we should arrive at exactly the same result.
But this--there is no denying it--is simply impossible.
We can only hope to approximate to the conditions;
and if we don't succeed in getting you nearly enough
back to what you were, this venture of ours will fail.
If we do succeed--and I am myself hopeful of success--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. I believe,
Mr. Blake, I have now stated the question, on both sides of it,
as fairly as I can, within the limits that I have imposed
on myself. If there is anything that I have not made clear
to you, tell me what it is--and if I can enlighten you,
"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
"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. All these are active proceedings.
I thought the influence of opium was first to stupefy you, and then
to send you to sleep."
"The common error about opium, Mr. Blake! I am, at this moment,
exerting my intelligence (such as it is) in your service, under the
influence of a dose of laudanum, some ten times larger than the dose
Mr. Candy administered to you. But don't trust to my authority--
even on a question which comes within my own personal experience.
I anticipated the objection you have just made: and I have again
provided myself with independent testimony which will carry its due
weight with it in your own mind, and in the minds of your friends."
He handed me the second of the two books which he had by him on the table.
"There," he said, "are the far-famed CONFESSIONS OF AN ENGLISH
OPIUM EATER! Take the book away with you, and read it.
At the passage which I have marked, you will find that when De
Quincey had committed what he calls "a 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
"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.
"The action of opium is comprised, in the majority of cases,
in two influences--a stimulating influence first, and a sedative
influence afterwards. 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.
When the morning came, and the effect of the opium had
been all slept off, you would wake as absolutely ignorant
of what you had done in the night as if you had been living
at the Antipodes. Have I made it tolerably clear to you
"You have made it so clear," I said, "that I want you to go farther.
You have shown me how I entered the room, and how I came to take the Diamond.
But Miss Verinder saw me leave the room again, with the jewel in my hand.
Can you trace my proceedings from that moment? Can you guess what I
"That is the very point I was coming to," he rejoined.
"It is a question with me whether the experiment which I
propose as a means of vindicating your innocence, may not
also be made a means of recovering the lost Diamond as well.
When you left Miss Verinder's sitting-room, with the jewel
in your hand, you went back in all probability to your
"Yes? and what then?"
"It is possible, Mr. Blake--I dare not say more--that your
idea of preserving the Diamond led, by a natural sequence,
to the idea of hiding the Diamond, and that the place
in which you hid it was somewhere in your bedroom.
In that event, the case of the Irish porter may be your case.
You may remember, under the influence of the second dose of opium,
the place in which you hid the Diamond under the influence of
It was my turn, now, to enlighten Ezra Jennings. I stopped him,
before he could say any more.
"You are speculating," I said, "on a result which cannot possibly take place.
The Diamond is, at this moment, in London."
He started, and looked at me in great surprise.
"In London?" he repeated. "How did it get to London from Lady
"You removed it with your own hand from Miss Verinder's room.
How was it taken out of your keeping?"
"I have no idea how it was taken out of my keeping."
"Did you see it, when you woke in the morning?"
"Has Miss Verinder recovered possession of it?"
"Mr. Blake! there seems to be something here which wants clearing up.
May I ask how you know that the Diamond is, at this moment,
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.
He showed plainly that he was not satisfied with my reply.
"With all deference to you," he said, "and with all deference to your
legal adviser, I maintain the opinion which I expressed just now.
It rests, I am well aware, on a mere assumption. Pardon me for
reminding you, that your opinion also rests on a mere assumption
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. Luker's house after the Diamond--
and, therefore, in Mr. Luker's possession the Diamond must be!
Have you any evidence to prove that the Moonstone
was taken to London at all? You can't even guess how,
or by whom, it was removed from Lady Verinder's house!
Have you any evidence that the jewel was pledged to Mr. Luker?
He declares that he never heard of the Moonstone; and his bankers'
receipt acknowledges nothing but the deposit of a valuable
of great price. The Indians assume that Mr. Luker is lying--
and you assume again that the Indians are right. All I say,
in differing with you, is--that my view is possible.
What more, Mr. Blake, either logically, or legally, can be said
It was put strongly; but there was no denying that it was put truly as well.
"I confess you stagger me," I replied. "Do you object to my writing
to Mr. Bruff, and telling him what you have said?"
"On the contrary, I shall be glad if you will write to Mr. Bruff.
If we consult his experience, we may see the matter under a new light.
For the present, let us return to our experiment with the opium.
We have decided that you leave off the habit of smoking from
"From this moment?"
"That is the first step. 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? Lady Verinder was dead. Rachel and I,
so long as the suspicion of theft rested on me, were parted irrevocably.
Godfrey Ablewhite was away travelling on the Continent. 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.
"Above all things," he said, "you must sleep in the room which you
slept in, on the birthday night, and it must be furnished in the same way.
The stairs, the corridors, and Miss Verinder's sitting-room,
must also be restored to what they were when you saw them last.
It is absolutely necessary, Mr. 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.
"May I ask you a delicate question?" he said.
I signed to him to go on.
"Am I right, Mr. Blake, in fancying (from one or two things which have
dropped from you) that you felt no common interest in Miss Verinder,
in former times?"
"Was the feeling returned?"
"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.
He pressed my hand gently. "Remember what I told you on the moor,"
he answered. "If I can do you this little service, Mr. Blake,
I shall feel it like a last gleam of sunshine, falling on the evening
of a long and clouded day."
We parted. It was then the fifteenth of June. The events
of the next ten days--every one of them more or less directly
connected with the experiment of which I was the passive object--
are all placed on record, exactly as they happened, in the Journal
habitually kept by Mr. Candy's assistant. In the pages of Ezra
Jennings nothing is concealed, and nothing is forgotten.
Let Ezra Jennings tell how the venture with the opium was tried,
and how it ended.
Extracted from the Journal of EZRA JENNINGS
1849.--June 15.... With some interruption from patients, and some interruption
from pain, I finished my letter to Miss Verinder in time for to-day's post.
I failed to make it as short a letter as I could have wished. But I think I
have made it plain. It leaves her entirely mistress of her own decision.
If she consents to assist the experiment, she consents of her own free will,
and not as a favour to Mr. Franklin Blake or to me.
June 16th.--Rose late, after a dreadful night; the vengeance
of yesterday's opium, pursuing me through a series of
frightful dreams. At one time I was whirling through empty space
with the phantoms of the dead, friends and enemies together.
At another, the one beloved face which I shall never see again,
rose at my bedside, hideously phosphorescent in the black darkness,
and glared and grinned at me. A slight return of the old pain,
at the usual time in the early morning, was welcome as a change.
It dispelled the visions--and it was bearable because it
My bad night made it late in the morning, before I could get
to Mr. Franklin Blake. I found him stretched on the sofa,
breakfasting on brandy and soda-water, and a dry biscuit.
"I am beginning, as well as you could possibly wish," he said.
"A miserable, restless night; and a total failure of appetite
this morning. Exactly what happened last year, when I gave up
my cigars. The sooner I am ready for my second dose of laudanum,
the better I shall be pleased."
"You shall have it on the earliest possible day," I answered.
"In the meantime, we must be as careful of your health as we can.
If we allow you to become exhausted, we shall fail in that way.
You must get an appetite for your dinner. In other words, you must get
a ride or a walk this morning, in the fresh air."
"I will ride, if they can find me a horse here. By-the-by, I
wrote to Mr. Bruff, yesterday. Have you written to Miss Verinder?"
"Yes--by last night's post."
"Very good. We shall have some news worth hearing, to tell each
other to-morrow. Don't go yet! I have a word to say to you.
You appeared to think, yesterday, that our experiment with the opium
was not likely to be viewed very favourably by some of my friends.
You were quite right. I call old Gabriel Betteredge one of my friends;
and you will be amused to hear that he protested strongly when I saw
him yesterday. "You have done a wonderful number of foolish things
in the course of your life, Mr. Franklin, but this tops them all!"
There is Betteredge's opinion! You will make 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.
What is the secret of the attraction that there is for me in this man?
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! Mr. Blake has given me a new interest
in life. Let that be enough, without seeking to know what the new
June 17th.--Before breakfast, this morning, Mr. Candy informed me that he was
going away for a fortnight, on a visit to a friend in the south of England.
He gave me as many special directions, poor fellow, about the patients, as if
he still had the large practice which he possessed before he was taken ill.
The practice is worth little enough now! Other doctors have superseded HIM;
and nobody who can help it will employ 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. Blake.
And I hardly know what undesirable results might not have happened,
if I had taken him into my confidence. Better as it is.
Unquestionably, better as it is.
The post brought me Miss Verinder's answer, after Mr. Candy
had left the house.
A charming letter! It gives me the highest opinion of her.
There is no attempt to conceal the interest that she feels
in our proceedings. She tells me, in the prettiest manner,
that my letter has satisfied her of Mr. Blake's innocence,
without the slightest need (so far as she is concerned)
of putting my assertion to the proof. She even upbraids herself--
most undeservedly, poor thing!--for not having divined at
the time what the true solution of the mystery might really be.
The motive underlying all this proceeds evidently from something
more than a generous eagerness to make atonement for a wrong
which she has innocently inflicted on another person.
It is plain that she has loved him, throughout the estrangement
between them. In more than one place the rapture of discovering
that he has deserved to be loved, breaks its way innocently
through the stoutest formalities of pen and ink, and even
defies the stronger restraint still of writing to a stranger.
Is it possible (I ask myself, in 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. Franklin Blake.
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. But the second request
embarrasses me seriously.
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.
Here, again, there is a motive under the surface; and, here again,
I fancy that I can find it out.
What she has forbidden me to tell Mr. Franklin Blake, she is
(as I interpret it) eager to tell him with her own lips, BEFORE he is
put to the test which is to vindicate his 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.
But the thing cannot be done. 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
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. Franklin Blake.
Two o'clock.--I have just returned from my round of medical visits;
having begun, of course, by calling at the hotel.
Mr. Blake's report of the night is the same as before.
He has had some intervals of broken sleep, and no more.
But he feels it less to-day, having slept after yesterday's dinner.
This after-dinner sleep is the result, no doubt, of the ride
which I advised him to take. I fear I shall have to curtail his
restorative exercise in the fresh air. He must not be too well;
he must not be too ill. It is a case (as a sailor would say)
of very fine steering.
He has not heard yet from Mr. Bruff. I found him eager to know
if I had received any answer from Miss Verinder.
I told him exactly what I was permitted to tell, and no more.
It was quite needless to invent excuses for not showing him the letter.
He told me bitterly enough, poor fellow, that he understood the delicacy
which disinclined me to produce it. "She consents, of course,
as a matter of common courtesy and common justice," he said.
"But she keeps her own opinion of me, and waits to see the result."
I was sorely tempted to hint that he was now wronging her as she had
wronged him. On reflection, I shrank from forestalling her in the double
luxury of surprising and forgiving him.
My visit was a very short one. After the experience of the other night,
I have been compelled once more to give up my dose of opium.
As a necessary result, the agony of the disease that is in me has got
the upper hand again. I felt the attack coming on, and left abruptly,
so as not to alarm or distress him. It only lasted a quarter of an hour
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.
Travelling by the afternoon train from London, she would delay her arrival
until nine o'clock. At that hour, I have undertaken to see Mr. Blake
safely into his 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. On the next morning, she shall show Mr. 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. Betteredge, and give the necessary directions
for reopening the house.
June 18th.--Late again, in calling on Mr. Franklin Blake.
More of that horrible pain in the early morning;
followed, this time, by complete prostration, for some hours.
I 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. But the physical suffering exhausts me.
If I let myself sink, it may end in my becoming useless to Mr. Blake
at the time when he wants me most.
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.
I found him in the room, when I went in. He withdrew to the window
and looked out, while I put my first customary question to my patient.
Mr. Blake had slept badly again, and he felt the loss of rest this morning
more than he had felt it yet.
I asked next if he had heard from Mr. Bruff.
A letter had reached him that morning. Mr. Bruff expressed
the strongest disapproval of the course which his friend
and client was taking under my advice. It was mischievous--
for it excited hopes that might never be realised.
It was quite unintelligible to HIS mind, except that it looked
like a piece of trickery, akin to the trickery of mesmerism,
clairvoyance, and the like. It unsettled Miss Verinder's house,
and it would end in unsettling Miss Verinder herself. He had put
the case (without mentioning names) to an eminent physician;
and the eminent physician had smiled, had shaken his head,
and had said--nothing. On these grounds, Mr. Bruff entered
his protest, and left it there.
My next inquiry related to the subject of the Diamond.
Had the lawyer produced any evidence to prove that the jewel was
No, the lawyer had simply declined to discuss the question.
He was himself satisfied that the Moonstone had been pledged
to Mr. Luker. His eminent absent friend, Mr. Murthwaite
(whose consummate knowledge of the Indian character no one
could deny), was satisfied also. Under these circumstances,
and with the many demands already made on him, he must decline
entering into any disputes on the subject of evidence.
Time would show; and Mr. Bruff was willing to wait
It was quite plain--even if Mr. Blake had not made it plainer still
by reporting the substance of the letter, instead of reading what was
actually written--that distrust of me was at the bottom of all this.
Having myself foreseen that result, I was neither mortified nor surprised.
I asked Mr. Blake if his friend's protest had shaken him. He answered
emphatically, that it had not produced the slightest effect on his mind.
I was free after that to dismiss Mr. Bruff from consideration--and I did
dismiss him accordingly.
A pause in the talk between us, followed--and Gabriel Betteredge
came out from his retirement at the window.
"Can you favour me with your attention, sir?" he inquired,
addressing himself to me.
"I am quite at your service," I answered.
Betteredge took a chair and seated himself at the table.
He produced a huge old-fashioned leather pocket-book, with a
pencil of dimensions to match. Having put on his spectacles,
he opened the pocket-book, at a blank page, and addressed himself
to me once more.
"I have lived," said Betteredge, looking at me sternly,
"nigh on fifty years in the service of my late lady.
I was page-boy before that, in the service of the old lord,
her father. I am now somewhere between seventy and eighty years
of age--never mind exactly where! I am reckoned to have got
as pretty a knowledge and experience of the world as most men.
And what does it all end in? It ends, Mr. Ezra Jennings,
in a conjuring trick being performed on Mr. 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
Mr. Blake burst out laughing. I attempted to speak.
Betteredge held up his hand, in token that he had not done yet.
"Not a word, Mr. Jennings!" he said, "It don't want a word, sir, from you.
I have got my principles, thank God. If an order comes to me, which is
own brother to an order come from Bedlam, it don't matter. So long
as I get it from my master or mistress, as the case may be, I obey it.
I may have my own opinion, which is also, you will please to remember,
the opinion of Mr. Bruff--the Great Mr. Bruff!" said Betteredge,
raising his voice, and shaking his head at me solemnly. "It don't matter;
I withdraw my opinion, for all that. My young lady says, "Do it."
And I say, "Miss, it shall be done." Here I am, with my book and my pencil--
the latter not pointed so well as I could wish, but when Christians take
leave of their senses, who is to expect that pencils will keep their points?
Give me your orders, Mr. Jennings. I'll have them in writing, sir.
I'm determined not to be behind 'em, or before 'em, by so much as a
hair's breadth. I'm a blind agent--that's what I am. A blind agent!"
repeated Betteredge, with infinite relish of his own description of
"I am very sorry," I began, "that you and I don't agree----"
"Don't bring ME, into it!" interposed Betteredge.
"This is not a matter of agreement, it's a matter of obedience.
Issue your directions, sir--issue your directions!"
Mr. Blake made me a sign to take him at his word. I "issued my directions"
as plainly and as gravely as I could.
"I wish certain parts of the house to be 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. "Name the parts, Mr. Jennings!"
he said loftily.
"First, the inner hall, leading to the chief staircase."
"'First, the inner hall,'" Betteredge wrote. "Impossible to
furnish that, sir, as it was furnished last year--to begin with."
"Because there was a stuffed buzzard, Mr. Jennings, in the hall last year.
When the family left, the buzzard was put away with the other things.
When the buzzard was put away--he burst."
"We will except the buzzard then."
Betteredge took a note of the exception. "'The inner hall
to be furnished again, as furnished last year. A burst buzzard
alone excepted.' Please to go on, Mr. Jennings."
"The carpet to be laid down on the stairs, as before."
"'The carpet to be laid down on the stairs, as before.'
Sorry to disappoint you, sir. But that can't be done either."
"Because the man who laid that carpet down is dead, Mr. 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. Also, the bedroom
occupied last June by Mr. Franklin Blake."
Betteredge's blunt pencil followed me conscientiously, word by word.
"Go on, sir," he said, with sardonic gravity. "There's a deal of writing
left in the point of this pencil yet."
I told him that I had no more directions to give. "Sir," said Betteredge,
"in that case, I have a point or two to put on my own behalf." He opened
the pocket-book at a new page, and gave the inexhaustible pencil another
"I wish to know," he began, "whether I may, or may not,
wash my hands----"
"You may decidedly," said Mr. Blake. "I'll ring for the waiter."
"----of certain responsibilities," pursued Betteredge,
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. Jennings, we found
a surprising quantity of pins. Am I responsible for putting back
Betteredge made a note of that concession, on the spot.
"As to the first corridor next," he resumed. "When we moved
the ornaments in that part, we moved a statue of a fat naked child--
profanely described in the catalogue of the house as "Cupid, god of Love."
He had two wings last year, in the fleshy part of his shoulders.
My eye being off him, for the moment, he lost one of them. Am I
responsible for Cupid's wing?"
I made another concession, and Betteredge made another note.
"As to the second corridor," he went on. "There 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.
I say, who is responsible for untidying the tidiness of Mr. Franklin's room,
him or me?"
Mr. Blake declared that he would assume the whole responsibility
with the greatest pleasure. Betteredge obstinately declined to
listen to any solution of the difficulty, without first referring
it to my sanction and approval. I accepted Mr. Blake's proposal;
and Betteredge made a last entry in the pocket-book to that effect.
"Look in when you like, Mr. Jennings, beginning from to-morrow,"
he said, getting on his legs. "You will find me at work,
with the necessary persons to assist me. I 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. Franklin's room.
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.
Don't be afraid, on that account, of my feelings as a man getting
in the way of my duty as a servant! You shall be obeyed.
The maggots notwithstanding, sir, you shall be obeyed.
If it ends in your setting the house on fire, Damme if I
send for the engines, unless you ring the bell and order
With that farewell assurance, he made me a bow, and walked out of the room.
"Do you think we can depend on him?" I asked.
"Implicitly," answered Mr. Blake. "When we go to the house,
we shall find nothing neglected, and nothing forgotten."
June 19th.--Another protest against our contemplated proceedings!
From a lady this time.
The morning's post brought me two letters. One from Miss Verinder,
consenting, in the kindest manner, to the arrangement that I have proposed.
The other from the lady under whose care she is living--one Mrs. Merridew.
Mrs. Merridew presents her compliments, and does not 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.
I am probably, Mrs. Merridew thinks, not aware that Miss Verinder
is barely nineteen years of age. To allow a young lady, at her
time of life, to be 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. Merridew cannot possibly permit.
If the matter is allowed to proceed, she will feel it to be her duty--
at a serious sacrifice of her own personal convenience--
to accompany Miss Verinder to Yorkshire. Under these circumstances,
she ventures to request that I will kindly reconsider the subject;
seeing that Miss 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. Merridew and myself of a very
Translated from polite commonplace into plain English, the meaning of this is,
as I take it, that Mrs. Merridew stands in mortal fear of the opinion
of the world. She has 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. Merridew,
and regrets that he cannot feel justified in interfering any farther in
Mr. Blake's report of himself, this morning, was the same as before.
We determined not to disturb Betteredge by overlooking him at the house
to-day. To-morrow will be time enough for our first visit of inspection.
June 20th.--Mr. Blake is beginning to feel his continued restlessness
at night. The sooner the rooms are refurnished, now, the better.
On our way to the house, this morning, he consulted me,
with some nervous impatience and irresolution, about a letter
(forwarded to him from London) which he had received from
The Sergeant writes from Ireland. He acknowledges the receipt
(through his housekeeper) of a card and message which Mr. Blake
left at his residence near Dorking, and 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. If Mr. 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
After reading the letter, I had no hesitation in advising
Mr. Blake to inform Sergeant Cuff, in reply, of all that
had happened since the inquiry was suspended last year,
and to leave him to draw his own conclusions from the plain facts.
On second thoughts I also suggested inviting the 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. Blake's room,
his advice might be of great importance, at a future stage of the proceedings
over which I could exercise no control. This last consideration appeared
to decide Mr. Blake. He promised to follow my advice.
The sound of the hammer informed us that the work of re-furnishing
was in full progress, as we entered the drive that led to the house.
Betteredge, attired for the occasion in a fisherman's red cap,
and an apron of green baize, met us in the outer hall.
The moment he saw me, he pulled out the pocket-book and pencil,
and obstinately insisted on taking notes of everything that I
said to him. Look where we might, we found, as Mr. 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.
It seemed doubtful whether the house would be ready for us before
the end of the week.
Having congratulated Betteredge on the progress that he had made
(he persisted in taking notes every time I opened my lips;
declining, at the same time, to pay the slightest 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
"Could I say two words to you in private?" he asked, in a mysterious whisper.
I consented of course. Mr. Blake walked on to wait for me
in the garden, while I accompanied Betteredge into his room.
I fully anticipated a demand for certain new concessions,
following the precedent already established in the cases of
the stuffed buzzard, and the Cupid's wing. To my great surprise,
Betteredge laid his hand confidentially on my arm, and put this
extraordinary question to me:
"Mr. Jennings, do you happen to be acquainted with ROBINSON CRUSOE?"
I answered that I had read ROBINSON CRUSOE when I was a child.
"Not since then?" inquired Betteredge.
"Not since then."
He fell back a few steps, and looked at me with an expression
of compassionate curiosity, tempered by superstitious awe.
"He has not read ROBINSON CRUSOE since he was a child,"
said Betteredge, speaking to himself--not to me. "Let's try
how ROBINSON CRUSOE strikes him now!"
He unlocked a cupboard in a corner, and produced a dirty and dog's-eared book,
which exhaled a strong 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. Franklin Blake," he began. "While the workpeople are in the house,
my duty as a servant gets the better of my feelings as a man.
When the workpeople are gone, my feelings as a man get the better
of my duty as a servant. Very good. Last night, Mr. Jennings,
it was borne in powerfully on my mind that this new medical enterprise
of yours would end badly. 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
"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. "Wrostled is the word.
I wrostled, sir, between the silent orders in my bosom pulling me one way,
and the written orders in my pocket-book pushing me the other, until
(saving your presence) I was in a cold sweat. In that dreadful 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.
"What did I find here," pursued Betteredge, "at the first page I opened?
This awful bit, sir, page one hundred and seventy-eight, as follows.--'Upon
these, and many like 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,
those were the first words that met my eye, exactly at the time when I myself
was setting the secret Dictate at defiance! You don't see anything at all out
of the common in that, do you, sir?"
"I see a coincidence--nothing more."
"You don't feel at all shaken, Mr. Jennings, in respect to this
medical enterprise of yours?
"Not the least in the world."
Betteredge stared hard at me, in dead silence. He closed the book
with great deliberation; he locked it up again in the cupboard with
extraordinary care; he wheeled round, and stared hard at me once more.
Then he spoke.
"Sir," he said gravely, "there are great allowances to be made
for a man who has not read ROBINSON CRUSOE since he was a child.
I wish you good morning."
He opened his door with a low bow, and left me at liberty to find
my own way into the garden. I met Mr. Blake returning to the house.
"You needn't tell me what has happened," he said. "Betteredge has played
his last card: he has made another prophetic discovery in ROBINSON CRUSOE.
Have you humoured his favourite delusion? No? You have let him see
that you don't believe in ROBINSON CRUSOE? Mr. Jennings! you have fallen
to the lowest possible place in Betteredge's estimation. Say what you like,
and do what you like, for the future. You will find that he won't waste
another word on you now."
June 21st.--A short entry must suffice in my journal to-day.
Mr. Blake has had the worst night that he has passed yet.
I have been obliged, greatly against my will, to prescribe for him.
Men of his sensitive organisation are fortunately quick in feeling
the effect of remedial measures. Otherwise, I should be inclined to fear
that he will be totally unfit for the experiment when the time comes
to try it.
As for myself, after some little remission of my pains for the last two days
I had an attack this morning, of which I shall say nothing but that it
has decided me to return to the opium. I shall close this book, and take
my full dose--five hundred drops.
June 22nd.--Our prospects look better to-day. Mr. Blake's nervous
suffering is greatly allayed. He slept a little last night.
MY night, thanks to the opium, was the night of a man who is stunned.
I can't say that I woke this morning; the fitter expression would be,
that I recovered my senses.
We drove to the house to see if the refurnishing was done.
It will be completed to-morrow--Saturday. As Mr. Blake foretold,
Betteredge raised no further obstacles. From first to last,
he was ominously polite, and ominously silent.
My medical enterprise (as Betteredge calls it) must now, inevitably,
be delayed until Monday next. Tomorrow 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. Bruff,
making a point of it that he shall be present as one of the witnesses.
I especially choose the lawyer, because he is strongly prejudiced
against us. If we convince HIM, we place our victory beyond the
possibility of dispute.
Mr. Blake has also written to Sergeant Cuff; and I have sent
a line to Miss Verinder. With these, and with old Betteredge
(who is really a person of importance in the family)
we shall have witnesses enough for the purpose--without including
Mrs. Merridew, if Mrs. Merridew persists in sacrificing herself
to the opinion of the world.
June 23rd.--The vengeance of the opium overtook me again last night.
No matter; I must go on with it now till Monday is past and gone.
Mr. Blake is not so well again to-day. At two this morning,
he confesses that he opened the drawer in which his cigars are put away.
He only succeeded in locking it up again by a violent effort.
His next proceeding, in case of 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! I have taken possession
of the key until Tuesday next.
June 24th.--Mr. Blake and I took a long drive in an open carriage.
We both felt beneficially the blessed influence of the soft summer air.
I dined with him at the hotel. To my great relief--for I found him
in an over-wrought, over-excited state this morning--he had two hours'
sound sleep on the sofa after dinner. If he has another bad night, now--I am
not afraid of the consequence.
June 25th, Monday.--The day of the experiment! It is five o'clock
in the afternoon. We have just arrived at the house.
The first and foremost question, is the question of Mr. Blake's health.
So far as it is possible for me to judge, he promises
(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. He changes
colour readily; his hand is not quite steady; and he starts
at chance noises, and at unexpected appearances of persons
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.
Here are the same causes at work again, which operated last year;
and here are, apparently, the same effects. Will the parallel still
hold good, when the final test has been tried? The events of the night
While I write these lines, Mr. 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.
Have I omitted anything, thus far? A glance at yesterday's entry shows
me that I have forgotten to note the arrival of the morning's post.
Let me set this right before I close these leaves for the present, and join
I received a few lines then, yesterday, from Miss Verinder.
She has arranged to travel by the afternoon train, as I recommended.
Mrs. Merridew has insisted on accompanying her. The note hints
that the old lady's generally excellent temper is a little ruffled,
and requests all due indulgence for her, in consideration of her age
and her habits. I will endeavour, in my relations with Mrs. 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. Whenever he looks my way,
he remembers that I have not read ROBINSON CRUSOE since I was a child,
and he respectfully pities me.
Yesterday, also, Mr. Blake had the lawyer's answer.
Mr. Bruff accepts the invitation--under protest. It is,
he thinks, clearly necessary that a gentleman possessed
of the average allowance of common sense, should accompany
Miss Verinder to the scene of, what we will venture to call,
the proposed exhibition. For want of a better escort,
Mr. Bruff himself will be that gentleman.--So here is poor
Miss Verinder provided with two "chaperones." It is a relief
to think that the opinion of the world must surely be satisfied
Nothing has been heard of Sergeant Cuff. He is no doubt still in Ireland.
We must not expect to see him to-night.
Betteredge has just come in, to say that Mr. Blake has asked for me.
I must lay down my pen for the present.
* * * * * * * * * *
Seven o'clock.--We have been all over the refurnished rooms and
staircases again; and we have had a pleasant stroll in the shrubbery,
which was Mr. Blake's favourite walk when he was here last.
In this way, I hope to revive the old impressions of places and things
as vividly as possible in his mind.
We are now going to dine, exactly at the hour at which the birthday dinner was
given last year. My object, of course, is a purely medical one in this case.
The laudanum must find the process of digestion, as nearly as may be,
where the laudanum found it last year.
At a reasonable time after dinner I propose to lead the conversation
back again--as inartificially as I can--to the subject of the Diamond,
and of the Indian conspiracy to steal it. When I have filled his mind
with these topics, I shall have done all that it is in my power to do,
before the time comes for giving him the second dose.
* * * * * * * * * *
Half-past eight.--I have only this moment found an opportunity
of attending to the most important duty of all; the duty of looking
in the family medicine chest, for the laudanum which Mr. Candy
used last year.
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. The preparation which it contained was,
as I had anticipated, the common Tincture of Opium.
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
The question of the quantity which I am to administer presents
certain difficulties. I have thought it over, and have decided
on increasing the dose.
My notes inform me that Mr. Candy only administered twenty-five minims.
This is a small dose to have produced the results which followed--
even in the case of a person so sensitive as Mr. Blake. I think it highly
probable that Mr. Candy gave more than he supposed himself to have given--
knowing, as I do, that he has a keen relish of the pleasures of the table,
and that he measured out the laudanum on the birthday, after dinner.
In any case, I shall run the risk of enlarging the dose to forty minims.
On this occasion, Mr. Blake knows beforehand that he is going to take
the 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,
* * * * * * * * * *
Ten o'clock.--The witnesses, or the company (which shall I call them?)
reached the house an hour since.
A little before nine o'clock, I prevailed on Mr. Blake to accompany
me to his bedroom; stating, as a reason, that I wished him
to look round it, for the last time, in order to make quite sure
that nothing had been forgotten in the refurnishing of the room.
I had previously arranged with Betteredge, that the bedchamber prepared
for Mr. Bruff should be the next room to Mr. Blake's, and that I
should be informed of the lawyer's arrival by a knock at the door.
Five minutes after the clock in the hall had struck nine,
I heard the knock; and, going out immediately, met Mr. Bruff in
My personal appearance (as usual) told against me. Mr. Bruff's
distrust looked at me plainly enough out of Mr. Bruff's eyes.
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. Blake's room.
"You have travelled here, I believe, in company with Mrs. Merridew
and Miss Verinder?" I said.
"Yes," answered Mr. Bruff, as drily as might be.
"Miss Verinder has probably told you, that I wish her presence in the house
(and Mrs. Merridew's presence of course) to be kept a secret from Mr. Blake,
until my experiment on him has been tried first?"
"I know that I am to hold my tongue, sir!" said Mr. Bruff, impatiently.
"Being habitually silent on the subject of human folly, I am all the readier
to keep my lips closed on this occasion. Does that satisfy you?"
I bowed, and left Betteredge to show him to his room.
Betteredge gave me one look at parting, which said, as if
in so many words, "You have caught a Tartar, Mr. Jennings--
and the name of him is Bruff."
It was next necessary to get the meeting over with the two ladies.
I descended the stairs--a little nervously, I confess--on my way to Miss
The gardener's wife (charged with looking after the accommodation
of the ladies) met me in the first-floor corridor.
This excellent woman treats me with an excessive civility
which is plainly the offspring of down-right terror.
She stares, trembles, and curtseys, whenever I speak to her.
On my asking for Miss Verinder, she stared, trembled, and would
no doubt have curtseyed next, if Miss Verinder herself
had not cut that ceremony short, by suddenly opening her
"Is that Mr. Jennings?" she asked.
Before I could answer, she came out eagerly to speak to me in the corridor.
We met under the light of a lamp on a bracket. At the first sight of me,
Miss Verinder stopped, and hesitated. She recovered herself instantly,
coloured for a moment--and then, with a charming frankness, offered me
"I can't treat you like a stranger, Mr. Jennings," she said.
"Oh, if you only knew how happy your letters have made me!"
She looked at my ugly wrinkled face, with a bright gratitude so new to me in
my experience of my fellow-creatures, that I was at a loss how to answer her.
Nothing had prepared me for her kindness and her beauty. The misery of many
years has not hardened my heart, thank God. I was as awkward and as shy
with her, as if I had been a lad in my teens.
"Where is he now?" she asked, giving free expression
to her one dominant interest--the interest in Mr. Blake.
"What is he doing? Has he spoken of me? Is he in good spirits?
How does he bear the sight of the house, after what happened
in it last year? When are you going to give him the laudanum?
May I see you pour it out? I am so 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. Do you wonder at
the interest I take in this?"
"No," I said. "I venture to think that I thoroughly understand it."
She was far above the paltry affectation of being confused.
She answered me as she might have answered a brother or
"You have relieved me of indescribable wretchedness; you have given me
a new life. 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. Is there any excuse for me,
in that? I hope there is--I am afraid it is the only excuse I have.
When to-morrow comes, and he knows that I am in the house, do you think----"
She stopped again, and looked at 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.
"You have seen a great deal of him lately," she said. "Have you,
really and truly, seen THAT?"
"Really and truly," I answered. "I am quite certain of what will happen
to-morrow. I wish I could feel as certain of what will happen to-night."
At that point in the conversation, we were interrupted by the appearance of
Betteredge with the tea-tray. He gave me another significant look as he passed
on into the sitting-room. "Aye! aye! make your hay while the sun shines.
The Tartar's upstairs, Mr. Jennings--the Tartar's upstairs!"
We followed him into the room. A little old lady, in a corner,
very nicely dressed, and very deeply absorbed over a smart piece
of embroidery, dropped her work in her lap, and uttered a faint
little scream at the first sight of my gipsy complexion and my
"Mrs. Merridew," said Miss Verinder, "this is Mr. Jennings."
"I beg Mr. Jennings's pardon," said the old lady, looking at Miss Verinder,
and speaking at me. "Railway travelling always makes me nervous.
I am endeavouring to quiet my mind by occupying myself as usual. I don't
know whether my embroidery is out of place, on this extraordinary occasion.
If it interferes with Mr. Jennings's medical views, I shall be happy to put it
away of course."
I hastened to sanction the presence of the embroidery, exactly as I
had sanctioned the absence of the burst buzzard and the Cupid's wing.
Mrs. Merridew made an effort--a grateful effort--to look at my hair.
No! it was not to be done. Mrs. Merridew looked back again at
"If Mr. Jennings will permit me," pursued the old lady,
"I should like to ask a favour. Mr. Jennings is about to try
a scientific experiment to-night. I used to attend scientific
experiments when I was a girl at school. They invariably
ended in an explosion. If Mr. Jennings will be so very kind,
I should like to be warned of the explosion this time.
With a view to getting it over, if possible, before I go
I attempted to assure Mrs. Merridew that an explosion was not included
in the programme on this occasion.
"No," said the old lady. "I am much obliged to Mr. Jennings--
I am aware that he is only deceiving me for my own good.
I prefer plain dealing. I am quite resigned to the explosion--
but I DO want to get it over, if possible, before I go
Here the door opened, and Mrs. Merridew uttered another little scream.
The advent of the explosion? No: only the advent of Betteredge.
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Jennings," said Betteredge, in his
most elaborately confidential manner. "Mr. Franklin wishes
to know where you are. Being 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. Mr. Blake might make his appearance
in search of me, unless I went to him at once in his own room.
Miss Verinder followed me out into the corridor.
"They seem to be in a conspiracy to persecute you," she said.
"What does it mean?"
"Only the protest of the world, Miss Verinder--on a very small scale--
against 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. Blake.
To my surprise I found him alone; restlessly pacing his room,
and a little irritated at being left by himself.
"Where is Mr. Bruff?" I asked.
He pointed to the closed door of communication between the two rooms.
Mr. 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. Blake. Upon this,
the lawyer had taken refuge in a black leather bag, filled to
bursting with professional papers. "The serious business of life,"
he admitted, "was sadly out of place on such an occasion as the present.
But the serious business of life must be carried on, for all that.
Mr. Blake would perhaps kindly make allowance for the old-fashioned
habits of a practical man. Time was money--and, as for Mr. Jennings,
he might depend on it that Mr. Bruff would be forthcoming
when called upon." With that apology, the lawyer had gone back
to his own room, and had immersed himself obstinately in his
I thought of Mrs. Merridew and her embroidery, and of Betteredge
and his conscience. There is a wonderful sameness in the solid side
of the English character--just as there is a wonderful sameness
in the solid expression of the English face.
"When are you going to give me the laudanum?" asked Mr. Blake impatiently.
"You must wait a little longer," I said. "I will stay and keep you company
till the time comes."
It was then not ten o'clock. Inquiries which I had made,
at various times, of Betteredge and Mr. Blake, had led me
to the conclusion that the dose of laudanum given by Mr. Candy
could not possibly have been administered before eleven.
I had accordingly determined not to try the second dose until
We talked a little; but both our minds were preoccupied by the coming ordeal.
The conversation soon flagged--then dropped altogether. Mr. Blake idly
turned over the books on his bedroom table. I had taken the precaution
of looking at them, when we first entered the room. THE GUARDIAN; THE TATLER;
Richardson's PAMELA; Mackenzie's MAN OF 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. I left Mr. Blake to the composing
influence of Standard Literature, and occupied myself in making this entry in
My watch informs me that it is close on eleven o'clock. I must shut up
these leaves once more.
* * * * * * * * * *
Two o'clock A.M.--The experiment has been tried. With what result,
I am now to describe.
At eleven o'clock, I rang the bell for Betteredge, and told Mr. Blake
that he might at last prepare himself for bed.
I looked out of the window at the night. It was mild
and rainy, resembling, in this respect, the night of the birthday--
the twenty-first of June, last year. Without professing
to believe in omens, it was at least encouraging to find no
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.
It contained these lines:
"Mrs. 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.
She has no idea that the chief scene of the experiment is my sitting-room--
or she would have remained in it for the whole night! I am alone,
and very anxious. Pray let me see you measure out the laudanum; I want
to have something to do with it, even in the unimportant character of a
I followed Betteredge out of the room, and told him to remove
the medicine-chest into Miss Verinder's sitting-room.
The order appeared to take him completely by surprise.
He looked as if he suspected me of some occult medical
design on Miss Verinder! "Might I presume to ask," he said,
"what my young lady and the medicine-chest have got to do with
"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
Betteredge withdrew to fetch the medicine-chest, without another word.
I went back into Mr. Blake's room, and knocked at the door of communication.
Mr. Bruff opened it, with his papers in his hand--immersed in Law;
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.
"I must trouble you to return here with me, and to see me administer
"One thing more. I must put you to the inconvenience of remaining
in Mr. Blake's room, and of waiting to see what happens."
"Oh, very good!" said Mr. Bruff. "My room, or Mr. Blake's room--
it doesn't matter which; I can go on with my papers anywhere.
Unless you object, Mr. Jennings, to my importing THAT amount of common
sense into the 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. "Mr. Bruff, you have no more imagination
than a cow!"
"A cow is a very useful animal, Mr. Blake," said the lawyer.
With that reply he followed me out of the room, still keeping his
papers in his hand.
We found Miss Verinder, pale and agitated, restlessly pacing her
sitting-room from end to end. At a table in a corner stood Betteredge,
on guard over the medicine-chest. Mr. Bruff sat down on the first
chair that he could find, and (emulating the usefulness of the cow)
plunged back again into his papers on the spot.
Miss Verinder drew me aside, and reverted instantly to her
one all-absorbing interest--her interest in Mr. Blake.
"How is he now?" she asked. "Is he nervous? is he out of temper?
Do you think it will succeed? Are you sure it will do no harm?"
"Quite sure. Come, and see me measure it out."
"One moment! It is past eleven now. How long will it be before
"It is not easy to say. An hour perhaps."
"I suppose the room must be dark, as it was last year?"
"I shall wait in my bedroom--just as I did before. I shall keep
the door a little way open. It was a little way open last year.
I will watch the sitting-room door; and the moment it moves,
I will blow out my light. It all happened in that way, on my
birthday night. And it must all happen again in the same way,
"Are you sure you can control yourself, Miss Verinder?"
"In HIS interests, I can do anything!" she answered fervently.
One look at her face told me that I could trust her.
I addressed myself again to Mr. Bruff.
"I must trouble you to put your papers aside for a moment,"
"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.
Miss Verinder joined me with a glass jug of cold water, which she had
taken from a side-table. "Let me pour out the water," she whispered.
"I must have a hand in it!"
I measured out the forty minims from the bottle, and poured
the laudanum into a medicine glass. "Fill it till it is three
parts full," I said, and handed the glass to Miss Verinder.
I then directed Betteredge to lock up the medicine chest;
informing him that I had done with it now. A look of
unutterable relief overspread the old servant's countenance.
He had evidently suspected me of a medical design on his
After adding the water as I had directed, Miss Verinder seized a moment--
while Betteredge was locking the chest, and while Mr. 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
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.
Mr. Bruff witnessed this proceeding, under protest, as he had
witnessed everything else. But the strong dramatic interest which
the experiment was now assuming, proved (to my great amusement)
to be too much for Betteredge's capacity of self restraint.
His hand trembled as he held the candle, and he whispered anxiously,
"Are you sure, miss, it's the right drawer?"
I led the way out again, with the laudanum and water in my hand.
At the door, I stopped to address a last word to Miss Verinder.
"Don't be long in putting out the lights," I said.
I will put them out at once," she answered. "And I will wait in my bedroom,
with only one candle alight."
She closed the sitting-room door behind us. Followed by Mr. Bruff
and Betteredge, I went back to Mr. Blake's room.
We found him moving restlessly from side to side of the bed,
and wondering irritably whether he was to have the laudanum
that night. In the presence of the two witnesses, I gave him
the dose, and shook up his pillows, and told him to lie down
again quietly and wait.
His bed, provided with 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. On one side, I drew
the curtains completely--and in the part of the room thus
screened from his view, I placed Mr. Bruff and Betteredge,
to wait for the result. At the bottom of the bed I half drew
the curtains--and placed my own chair at a little distance,
so that I might let him see me or not see me, speak to me
or not speak to me, just as the circumstances might direct.
Having already been informed that he always slept with
a light in the room, I placed one of the two lighted
candles on a little table at the head of the bed,
where the glare of the light would not strike on his eyes.
The other candle I gave to Mr. Bruff; the light, in this instance,
being subdued by the screen of the chintz curtains.
The window was open at the top, so as to ventilate the room.
The rain fell softly, the house was quiet. It was twenty minutes
past eleven, by my watch, when the preparations were completed,
and I took my place on the chair set apart at the bottom of
Mr. Bruff resumed his papers, with every appearance of being as deeply
interested in them as ever. 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. The suspended interest of the situation in which we were now
placed was slowly asserting its influence even on HIS unimaginative mind.
As for Betteredge, consistency of principle and dignity of conduct had become,
in his case, mere empty words. He forgot that I was performing a conjuring
trick on Mr. Franklin Blake; he forgot that I had upset the house from top
to bottom; he forgot that I had not read ROBINSON CRUSOE since I was a child.
"For the Lord's sake, sir," he whispered to me, "tell us when it will begin
"Not before midnight," I whispered back. "Say nothing,
and sit still."
Betteredge dropped to the lowest depth of familiarity with me,
without a struggle to save himself. He answered by a wink!
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