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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.
I looked at the card. There was a foreign name written on it, which has
escaped my memory. It was followed by a line written in English at the
bottom of the card, which I remember perfectly well:
"Recommended by Mr. Septimus Luker."
The audacity of a person in 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. The
clerk, observing my bewilderment, favoured me with the result of his own
observation of the stranger who was waiting downstairs.
"He is rather a remarkable-looking man, sir. So dark in the complexion
that we all set him down in the office for an Indian, or something of
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. Luker's recommendation, and of the stranger's visit at my office. 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 was trusted with the secret of Colonel
Herncastle's plan for escaping assassination. I received the Colonel's
letters, periodically reporting himself a living man. 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. And, lastly, I combated Mr. 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.
The moment my mysterious client was shown in, I felt an inner conviction
that I was in the presence of one of the three Indians--probably of the
chief. He was carefully dressed in European costume. 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.
After first apologising--in an excellent selection of English words--for
the liberty which he had taken in disturbing me, the Indian produced a
small parcel the outer covering of which was of cloth of gold. Removing
this and a second wrapping of some silken fabric, he placed a little
box, or casket, on my table, most beautifully and richly inlaid in
jewels, on an ebony ground.
"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.
The Indian bowed.
"May I ask how it is that Mr. Luker himself did not advance the money
that you require?"
"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. "It is written there," he
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. He might not have respected my life. But he
did what none of my own countrymen had ever done, in all my experience
of them--he respected my time.
"I am sorry," I said, "that you should have had the trouble of coming to
me. Mr. Luker is quite mistaken in sending you here. 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. Only one question at parting! The average in my
experience was fifty.
"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.
It was done in a moment, in a noiseless, supple, cat-like way, which a
little startled me, I own. 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.
His face, voice, and manner--while I was in his company--were under such
perfect control that they set all scrutiny at defiance. But he had given
me one chance of looking under the smooth outer surface of him, for all
that. 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. When I gave him that
piece of information, he looked me straight in the face, while I was
speaking, for the first time. 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
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. Septimus Luker himself. 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
I made another unprofessional sacrifice to mere curiosity. I honoured
him by making an appointment at my office, for the next day.
Mr. 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
been favoured with a call from that accomplished gentleman. In spite of
his European disguise, 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. The result was that he became
quite paralysed with terror, and that he firmly believed his last hour
On his side, the Indian preserved the character of a perfect stranger.
He produced the little casket, and made exactly the same application
which he had afterwards made to me. As the speediest way of getting rid
of him, Mr. Luker had at once declared that he had no money. The Indian
had thereupon asked to be informed of the best and safest person to
apply to for the loan he wanted. Mr. 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. "The
perspiration was pouring off me like rain, sir," the wretched creature
concluded. "I didn't know what I was talking about. And I hope you'll
look over it, Mr. Bruff, sir, in consideration of my having been really
and truly frightened out of my wits."
I excused the fellow graciously enough. It was the readiest way of
releasing myself from the sight of him. Before he left me, I detained
him to make one inquiry.
Had the Indian said anything noticeable, at the moment of quitting Mr.
Yes! 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.
What did it mean? Mr. 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.
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