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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 did that.
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
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 interest is.
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
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 simply useless.
And yet, knowing this, I cannot find it in my heart to disappoint her. I
must try if I can discover some new arrangement, before post-time, which
will allow me to say Yes to Miss Verinder, without damage to the service
which I have bound myself to render to Mr. 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
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 in London?
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 for time.
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 conjurer's boy!"
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 himself.
"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
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 preliminary lick.
"I wish to know," he began, "whether I may, or may not, wash my
"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 the pins?"
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 them first!"
With that farewell assurance, he made me a bow, and walked out of the
"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 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 unpleasant responsibility.
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 Sergeant Cuff.
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 country life.
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
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 own room.
"Could I say two words to you in private?" he asked, in a mysterious
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
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 next morning."
"I am glad to find, from what I have seen up-stairs," I said, "that you
resisted the secret Dictate."
"Resisted isn't the word," answered Betteredge. "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
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
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
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
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 and things.
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 must decide.
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
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 with this!
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
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 of emergency.
The question of the quantity which I am to administer presents certain
difficulties. I have thought it over, and have decided on increasing the
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, last year.
* * * * *
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 the corridor.
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.
"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 sitting-room door.
"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 her hand.
"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 a father.
"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
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 piebald hair.
"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 Miss Verinder.
"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 to bed."
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 to bed."
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
"Only the protest of the world, Miss Verinder--on a very small
scale--against anything that is new."
"What are we to do with Mrs. Merridew?"
"Tell her the explosion will take place at nine to-morrow morning."
"So as to send her to bed?"
"Yes--so as to send her to bed."
Miss Verinder went back to the sitting-room, and I went upstairs to Mr.
To my surprise I found him alone; restlessly pacing his room, and a
little irritated at being left by himself.
"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 black bag.
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
"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 that time.
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
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 mere looker-on.--R.V."
I followed Betteredge out of the room, and told him to remove the
medicine-chest into Miss Verinder's sitting-room.
The order appeared to take him completely by surprise. 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 each other?"
"Stay in the sitting-room, and you will see."
Betteredge appeared to doubt his own unaided capacity to superintend me
effectually, on an occasion when a medicine-chest was included in the
"Is there any objection, sir" he asked, "to taking Mr. Bruff into this
part of the business?"
"Quite the contrary! I am now going to ask Mr. Bruff to accompany me
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. "Anything else?"
"I must trouble you to return here with me, and to see me administer the
"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
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
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 anything
"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, musn't it?"
"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," I said.
"Oh, certainly!" He got up with a start--as if I had disturbed him at a
particularly interesting place--and followed me to the medicine-chest.
There, deprived of the breathless excitement incidental to the practice
of his profession, he looked at Betteredge--and yawned wearily.
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 young lady!
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 that side!"
I took the piece of crystal which was to represent the Diamond from my
pocket, and gave it to her.
"You must have a hand in this, too," I said. "You must put it where you
put the Moonstone last year."
She led the way to the Indian cabinet, and put the mock Diamond into the
drawer which the real Diamond had occupied on the birthday night. 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
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 the bed.
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 to work."
"Not before midnight," I whispered back. "Say nothing, and sit still."
Betteredge dropped to the lowest depth of familiarity with me, without a
struggle to save himself. 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 that I was making him talk for a
purpose. Little by little, he became so interested in putting me right
that he forgot to fidget in the bed. His mind was far away from the
question of the opium, at the all-important time when his eyes first
told me that the opium was beginning to lay its hold on his brain.
I looked at my watch. It wanted five minutes to twelve, when the
premonitory symptoms of the working of the laudanum first showed
themselves to me.
At this time, no unpractised eyes would have detected any change in him.
But, as the minutes of the new morning wore away, the swiftly-subtle
progress of the influence began to show itself more plainly. The
sublime intoxication of opium gleamed in his eyes; the dew of a stealthy
perspiration began to glisten on his face. In five minutes more, the
talk which he still kept up with me, failed in coherence. He held
steadily to the subject of the Diamond; but he ceased to complete his
sentences. A little later, the sentences dropped to single words. Then,
there was an interval of silence. Then, he sat up in bed. Then, still
busy with the subject of the Diamond, he began to talk again--not to
me, but to himself. That change told me that the first stage in the
experiment was reached. The stimulant influence of the opium had got
The time, now, was twenty-three minutes past twelve. The next half hour,
at most, would decide the question of whether he would, or would not,
get up from his bed, and leave the room.
In the breathless interest of watching him--in the unutterable triumph
of seeing the first result of the experiment declare itself in the
manner, and nearly at the time, which I had anticipated--I had utterly
forgotten the two companions of my night vigil. Looking towards them
now, I saw the Law (as represented by Mr. Bruff's papers) lying unheeded
on the floor. Mr. Bruff himself was looking eagerly through a crevice
left in the imperfectly-drawn curtains of the bed. And Betteredge,
oblivious of all respect for social distinctions, was peeping over Mr.
They both started back, on finding that I was looking at them, like two
boys caught out by their schoolmaster in a fault. I signed to them to
take off their boots quietly, as I was taking off mine. If Mr. Blake
gave us the chance of following him, it was vitally necessary to follow
him without noise.
Ten minutes passed--and nothing happened. Then, he suddenly threw the
bed-clothes off him. He put one leg out of bed. He waited.
"I wish I had never taken it out of the bank," he said to himself. "It
was safe in the bank."
My heart throbbed fast; the pulses at my temples beat furiously. The
doubt about the safety of the Diamond was, once more, the dominant
impression in his brain! On that one pivot, the whole success of the
experiment turned. The prospect thus suddenly opened before me was too
much for my shattered nerves. I was obliged to look away from him--or I
should have lost my self-control.
There was another interval of silence.
When I could trust myself to look back at him he was out of his bed,
standing erect at the side of it. The pupils of his eyes were now
contracted; his eyeballs gleamed in the light of the candle as he moved
his head slowly to and fro. He was thinking; he was doubting--he spoke
"How do I know?" he said. "The Indians may be hidden in the house."
He stopped, and walked slowly to the other end of the room. He
turned--waited--came back to the bed.
"It's not even locked up," he went on. "It's in the drawer of her
cabinet. And the drawer doesn't lock."
He sat down on the side of the bed. "Anybody might take it," he said.
He rose again restlessly, and reiterated his first words.
"How do I know? The Indians may be hidden in the house."
He waited again. I drew back behind the half curtain of the bed. He
looked about the room, with a vacant glitter in his eyes. It was a
breathless moment. There was a pause of some sort. A pause in the
action of the opium? a pause in the action of the brain? Who could tell?
Everything depended, now, on what he did next.
He laid himself down again on the bed!
A horrible doubt crossed my mind. Was it possible that the sedative
action of the opium was making itself felt already? It was not in my
experience that it should do this. But what is experience, where opium
is concerned? There are probably no two men in existence on whom
the drug acts in exactly the same manner. Was some constitutional
peculiarity in him, feeling the influence in some new way? Were we to
fail on the very brink of success?
No! He got up again abruptly. "How the devil am I to sleep," he said,
"with THIS on my mind?"
He looked at the light, burning on the table at the head of his bed.
After a moment, he took the candle in his hand.
I blew out the second candle, burning behind the closed curtains. I drew
back, with Mr. Bruff and Betteredge, into the farthest corner by the
bed. I signed to them to be silent, as if their lives had depended on
We waited--seeing and hearing nothing. We waited, hidden from him by the
The light which he was holding on the other side of us moved suddenly.
The next moment he passed us, swift and noiseless, with the candle in
He opened the bedroom door, and went out.
We followed him along the corridor. We followed him down the stairs. We
followed him along the second corridor. He never looked back; he never
He opened the sitting-room door, and went in, leaving it open behind
The door was hung (like all the other doors in the house) on large
old-fashioned hinges. When it was opened, a crevice was opened between
the door and the post. I signed to my two companions to look
through this, so as to keep them from showing themselves. I placed
myself--outside the door also--on the opposite side. A recess in the
wall was at my left hand, in which I could instantly hide myself, if he
showed any signs of looking back into the corridor.
He advanced to the middle of the room, with the candle still in his
hand: he looked about him--but he never looked back.
I saw the door of Miss Verinder's bedroom, standing ajar. She had put
out her light. She controlled herself nobly. The dim white outline of
her summer dress was all that I could see. Nobody who had not known it
beforehand would have suspected that there was a living creature in the
room. She kept back, in the dark: not a word, not a movement escaped
It was now ten minutes past one. I heard, through the dead silence, the
soft drip of the rain and the tremulous passage of the night air through
After waiting irresolute, for a minute or more, in the middle of the
room, he moved to the corner near the window, where the Indian cabinet
He put his candle on the top of the cabinet. He opened, and shut, one
drawer after another, until he came to the drawer in which the mock
Diamond was put. He looked into the drawer for a moment. Then he took
the mock Diamond out with his right hand. With the other hand, he took
the candle from the top of the cabinet.
He walked back a few steps towards the middle of the room, and stood
Thus far, he had exactly repeated what he had done on the birthday
night. Would his next proceeding be the same as the proceeding of last
year? Would he leave the room? Would he go back now, as I believed he
had gone back then, to his bed-chamber? Would he show us what he had
done with the Diamond, when he had returned to his own room?
His first action, when he moved once more, proved to be an action which
he had not performed, when he was under the influence of the opium for
the first time. He put the candle down on a table, and wandered on a
little towards the farther end of the room. There was a sofa there.
He leaned heavily on the back of it, with his left hand--then roused
himself, and returned to the middle of the room. I could now see his
eyes. They were getting dull and heavy; the glitter in them was fast
The suspense of the moment proved too much for Miss Verinder's
self-control. She advanced a few steps--then stopped again. Mr. Bruff
and Betteredge looked across the open doorway at me for the first time.
The prevision of a coming disappointment was impressing itself on their
minds as well as on mine.
Still, so long as he stood where he was, there was hope. We waited, in
unutterable expectation, to see what would happen next.
The next event was decisive. He let the mock Diamond drop out of his
It fell on the floor, before the doorway--plainly visible to him, and
to everyone. He made no effort to pick it up: he looked down at
it vacantly, and, as he looked, his head sank on his breast. He
staggered--roused himself for an instant--walked back unsteadily to the
sofa--and sat down on it. He made a last effort; he tried to rise, and
sank back. His head fell on the sofa cushions. It was then twenty-five
minutes past one o'clock. Before I had put my watch back in my pocket,
he was asleep.
It was all over now. The sedative influence had got him; the experiment
was at an end.
I entered the room, telling Mr. Bruff and Betteredge that they might
follow me. There was no fear of disturbing him. We were free to move and
"The first thing to settle," I said, "is the question of what we are to
do with him. He will probably sleep for the next six or seven hours, at
least. It is some distance to carry him back to his own room. When I was
younger, I could have done it alone. But my health and strength are not
what they were--I am afraid I must ask you to help me."
Before they could answer, Miss Verinder called to me softly. She met me
at the door of her room, with a light shawl, and with the counterpane
from her own bed.
"Do you mean to watch him while he sleeps?" she asked.
"Yes, I am not sure enough of the action of the opium in his case to be
willing to leave him alone."
She handed me the shawl and the counterpane.
"Why should you disturb him?" she whispered. "Make his bed on the sofa.
I can shut my door, and keep in my room."
It was infinitely the simplest and the safest way of disposing of
him for the night. I mentioned the suggestion to Mr. Bruff and
Betteredge--who both approved of my adopting it. In five minutes I had
laid him comfortably on the sofa, and had covered him lightly with
the counterpane and the shawl. Miss Verinder wished us good night, and
closed the door. At my request, we three then drew round the table in
the middle of the room, on which the candle was still burning, and on
which writing materials were placed.
"Before we separate," I began, "I have a word to say about the
experiment which has been tried to-night. Two distinct objects were to
be gained by it. The first of these objects was to prove, that Mr. Blake
entered this room, and took the Diamond, last year, acting unconsciously
and irresponsibly, under the influence of opium. After what you have
both seen, are you both satisfied, so far?"
They answered me in the affirmative, without a moment's hesitation.
"The second object," I went on, "was to discover what he did with the
Diamond, after he was seen by Miss Verinder to leave her sitting-room
with the jewel in his hand, on the birthday night. The gaining of this
object depended, of course, on his still continuing exactly to repeat
his proceedings of last year. He has failed to do that; and the purpose
of the experiment is defeated accordingly. I can't assert that I am
not disappointed at the result--but I can honestly say that I am not
surprised by it. I told Mr. Blake from the first, that our complete
success in this matter depended on our completely reproducing in him the
physical and moral conditions of last year--and I warned him that this
was the next thing to a downright impossibility. We have only partially
reproduced the conditions, and the experiment has been only partially
successful in consequence. It is also possible that I may have
administered too large a dose of laudanum. But I myself look upon the
first reason that I have given, as the true reason why we have to lament
a failure, as well as to rejoice over a success."
After saying those words, I put the writing materials before Mr. Bruff,
and asked him if he had any objection--before we separated for the
night--to draw out, and sign, a plain statement of what he had seen.
He at once took the pen, and produced the statement with the fluent
readiness of a practised hand.
"I owe you this," he said, signing the paper, "as some atonement for
what passed between us earlier in the evening. I beg your pardon,
Mr. Jennings, for having doubted you. You have done Franklin Blake an
inestimable service. In our legal phrase, you have proved your case."
Betteredge's apology was characteristic of the man.
"Mr. Jennings," he said, "when you read ROBINSON CRUSOE again (which I
strongly recommend you to do), you will find that he never scruples to
acknowledge it, when he turns out to have been in the wrong. Please
to consider me, sir, as doing what Robinson Crusoe did, on the present
occasion." With those words he signed the paper in his turn.
Mr. Bruff took me aside, as we rose from the table.
"One word about the Diamond," he said. "Your theory is that Franklin
Blake hid the Moonstone in his room. My theory is, that the Moonstone
is in the possession of Mr. Luker's bankers in London. We won't dispute
which of us is right. We will only ask, which of us is in a position to
put his theory to the test?"
"The test, in my case," I answered, "has been tried to-night, and has
"The test, in my case," rejoined Mr. Bruff, "is still in process of
trial. For the last two days I have had a watch set for Mr. Luker at the
bank; and I shall cause that watch to be continued until the last day
of the month. I know that he must take the Diamond himself out of his
bankers' hands--and I am acting on the chance that the person who has
pledged the Diamond may force him to do this by redeeming the pledge.
In that case I may be able to lay my hand on the person. If I succeed, I
clear up the mystery, exactly at the point where the mystery baffles us
now! Do you admit that, so far?"
I admitted it readily.
"I am going back to town by the morning train," pursued the lawyer. "I
may hear, when I return, that a discovery has been made--and it may be
of the greatest importance that I should have Franklin Blake at hand to
appeal to, if necessary. I intend to tell him, as soon as he wakes, that
he must return with me to London. After all that has happened, may I
trust to your influence to back me?"
"Certainly!" I said.
Mr. Bruff shook hands with me, and left the room. Betteredge followed
him out; I went to the sofa to look at Mr. Blake. He had not moved since
I had laid him down and made his bed--he lay locked in a deep and quiet
While I was still looking at him, I heard the bedroom door softly
opened. Once more, Miss Verinder appeared on the threshold, in her
pretty summer dress.
"Do me a last favour?" she whispered. "Let me watch him with you."
I hesitated--not in the interests of propriety; only in the interest of
her night's rest. She came close to me, and took my hand.
"I can't sleep; I can't even sit still, in my own room," she said. "Oh,
Mr. Jennings, if you were me, only think how you would long to sit and
look at him. Say, yes! Do!"
Is it necessary to mention that I gave way? Surely not!
She drew a chair to the foot of the sofa. She looked at him in a silent
ecstasy of happiness, till the tears rose in her eyes. She dried her
eyes, and said she would fetch her work. She fetched her work, and never
did a single stitch of it. It lay in her lap--she was not even able to
look away from him long enough to thread her needle. I thought of my own
youth; I thought of the gentle eyes which had once looked love at me. In
the heaviness of my heart I turned to my Journal for relief, and wrote
in it what is written here.
So we kept our watch together in silence. One of us absorbed in his
writing; the other absorbed in her love.
Hour after hour he lay in his deep sleep. The light of the new day grew
and grew in the room, and still he never moved.
Towards six o'clock, I felt the warning which told me that my pains
were coming back. I was obliged to leave her alone with him for a little
while. I said I would go up-stairs, and fetch another pillow for him out
of his room. It was not a long attack, this time. In a little while I
was able to venture back, and let her see me again.
I found her at the head of the sofa, when I returned. She was just
touching his forehead with her lips. I shook my head as soberly as I
could, and pointed to her chair. She looked back at me with a bright
smile, and a charming colour in her face. "You would have done it," she
whispered, "in my place!"
* * * * *
It is just eight o'clock. He is beginning to move for the first time.
Miss Verinder is kneeling by the side of the sofa. She has so placed
herself that when his eyes first open, they must open on her face.
Shall I leave them together?
* * * * *
Eleven o'clock.--The house is empty again. They have arranged it among
themselves; they have all gone to London by the ten o'clock train. My
brief dream of happiness is over. I have awakened again to the realities
of my friendless and lonely life.
I dare not trust myself to write down, the kind words that have been
said to me especially by Miss Verinder and Mr. Blake. Besides, it is
needless. Those words will come back to me in my solitary hours, and
will help me through what is left of the end of my life. Mr. Blake is to
write, and tell me what happens in London. Miss Verinder is to return to
Yorkshire in the autumn (for her marriage, no doubt); and I am to take a
holiday, and be a guest in the house. Oh me, how I felt, as the grateful
happiness looked at me out of her eyes, and the warm pressure of her
hand said, "This is your doing!"
My poor patients are waiting for me. Back again, this morning, to the
old routine! Back again, to-night, to the dreadful alternative between
the opium and the pain!
God be praised for His mercy! I have seen a little sunshine--I have had
a happy time.
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