Keeping my private sentiments to myself, I respectfully
requested Mr. Franklin to go on. Mr. Franklin replied, "Don't
fidget, Betteredge," and went on.
Our young gentleman's first words informed me that his
discoveries, concerning the wicked Colonel and the Diamond, had
begun with a visit which he had paid (before he came to us) to the
family lawyer, at Hampstead. A chance word dropped by Mr. Franklin,
when the two were alone, one day, after dinner, revealed that he
had been charged by his father with a birthday present to be taken
to Miss Rachel. One thing led to another; and it ended in the
lawyer mentioning what the present really was, and how the friendly
connexion between the late Colonel and Mr. Blake, senior, had taken
its rise. The facts here are really so extraordinary, that I doubt
if I can trust my own language to do justice to them. I prefer
trying to report Mr. Franklin's discoveries, as nearly as may be,
in Mr. Franklin's own words.
"You remember the time, Betteredge," he said, "when my father
was trying to prove his title to that unlucky Dukedom? Well! that
was also the time when my uncle Herncastle returned from India. My
father discovered that his brother-in-law was in possession of
certain papers which were likely to be of service to him in his
lawsuit. He called on the Colonel, on pretence of welcoming him
back to England. The Colonel was not to be deluded in that way.
'You want something,' he said, 'or you would never have compromised
your reputation by calling on ME.' My father saw that the one
chance for him was to show his hand; he admitted, at once, that he
wanted the papers. The Colonel asked for a day to consider his
answer. His answer came in the shape of a most extraordinary
letter, which my friend the lawyer showed me. The Colonel began by
saying that he wanted something of my father, and that he begged to
propose an exchange of friendly services between them. The fortune
of war (that was the expression he used) had placed him in
possession of one of the largest Diamonds in the world; and he had
reason to believe that neither he nor his precious jewel was safe
in any house, in any quarter of the globe, which they occupied
together. Under these alarming circumstances, he had determined to
place his Diamond in the keeping of another person. That person was
not expected to run any risk. He might deposit the precious stone
in any place especially guarded and set apart—like a banker's or
jeweller's strong-room—for the safe custody of valuables of high
price. His main personal responsibility in the matter was to be of
the passive kind. He was to undertake either by himself, or by a
trustworthy representative—to receive at a prearranged address, on
certain prearranged days in every year, a note from the Colonel,
simply stating the fact that he was a living man at that date. In
the event of the date passing over without the note being received,
the Colonel's silence might be taken as a sure token of the
Colonel's death by murder. In that case, and in no other, certain
sealed instructions relating to the disposal of the Diamond, and
deposited with it, were to be opened, and followed implicitly. If
my father chose to accept this strange charge, the Colonel's papers
were at his disposal in return. That was the letter."
"What did your father do, sir?" I asked.
"Do?" says Mr. Franklin. "I'll tell you what he did. He brought
the invaluable faculty, called common sense, to bear on the
Colonel's letter. The whole thing, he declared, was simply absurd.
Somewhere in his Indian wanderings, the Colonel had picked up with
some wretched crystal which he took for a diamond. As for the
danger of his being murdered, and the precautions devised to
preserve his life and his piece of crystal, this was the nineteenth
century, and any man in his senses had only to apply to the police.
The Colonel had been a notorious opium-eater for years past; and,
if the only way of getting at the valuable papers he possessed was
by accepting a matter of opium as a matter of fact, my father was
quite willing to take the ridiculous responsibility imposed on
him—all the more readily that it involved no trouble to himself.
The Diamond and the sealed instructions went into his banker's
strong-room, and the Colonel's letters, periodically reporting him
a living man, were received and opened by our family lawyer, Mr.
Bruff, as my father's representative. No sensible person, in a
similar position, could have viewed the matter in any other way.
Nothing in this world, Betteredge, is probable unless it appeals to
our own trumpery experience; and we only believe in a romance when
we see it in a newspaper."
It was plain to me from this, that Mr. Franklin thought his
father's notion about the Colonel hasty and wrong.
"What is your own private opinion about the matter, sir?" I
"Let's finish the story of the Colonel first," says Mr.
Franklin. "There is a curious want of system, Betteredge, in the
English mind; and your question, my old friend, is an instance of
it. When we are not occupied in making machinery, we are (mentally
speaking) the most slovenly people in the universe."
"So much," I thought to myself, "for a foreign education! He has
learned that way of girding at us in France, I suppose."
Mr. Franklin took up the lost thread, and went on.
"My father," he said, "got the papers he wanted, and never saw
his brother-in-law again from that time. Year after year, on the
prearranged days, the prearranged letter came from the Colonel, and
was opened by Mr. Bruff. I have seen the letters, in a heap, all of
them written in the same brief, business-like form of words:
'Sir,—This is to certify that I am still a living man. Let the
Diamond be. John Herncastle.' That was all he ever wrote, and that
came regularly to the day; until some six or eight months since,
when the form of the letter varied for the first time. It ran now:
'Sir,—They tell me I am dying. Come to me, and help me to make my
will.' Mr. Bruff went, and found him, in the little suburban villa,
surrounded by its own grounds, in which he had lived alone, ever
since he had left India. He had dogs, cats, and birds to keep him
company; but no human being near him, except the person who came
daily to do the house-work, and the doctor at the bedside. The will
was a very simple matter. The Colonel had dissipated the greater
part of his fortune in his chemical investigations. His will began
and ended in three clauses, which he dictated from his bed, in
perfect possession of his faculties. The first clause provided for
the safe keeping and support of his animals. The second founded a
professorship of experimental chemistry at a northern university.
The third bequeathed the Moonstone as a birthday present to his
niece, on condition that my father would act as executor. My father
at first refused to act. On second thoughts, however, he gave way,
partly because he was assured that the executorship would involve
him in no trouble; partly because Mr. Bruff suggested, in Rachel's
interest, that the Diamond might be worth something, after
"Did the Colonel give any reason, sir," I inquired, "why he left
the Diamond to Miss Rachel?"
"He not only gave the reason—he had the reason written in his
will," said Mr. Franklin. "I have got an extract, which you shall
see presently. Don't be slovenly-minded, Betteredge! One thing at a
time. You have heard about the Colonel's Will; now you must hear
what happened after the Colonel's death. It was formally necessary
to have the Diamond valued, before the Will could be proved. All
the jewellers consulted, at once confirmed the Colonel's assertion
that he possessed one of the largest diamonds in the world. The
question of accurately valuing it presented some serious
difficulties. Its size made it a phenomenon in the diamond market;
its colour placed it in a category by itself; and, to add to these
elements of uncertainty, there was a defect, in the shape of a
flaw, in the very heart of the stone. Even with this last serious
draw-back, however, the lowest of the various estimates given was
twenty thousand pounds. Conceive my father's astonishment! He had
been within a hair's-breadth of refusing to act as executor, and of
allowing this magnificent jewel to be lost to the family. The
interest he took in the matter now, induced him to open the sealed
instructions which had been deposited with the Diamond. Mr. Bruff
showed this document to me, with the other papers; and it suggests
(to my mind) a clue to the nature of the conspiracy which
threatened the Colonel's life."
"Then you do believe, sir," I said, "that there was a
"Not possessing my father's excellent common sense," answered
Mr. Franklin, "I believe the Colonel's life was threatened, exactly
as the Colonel said. The sealed instructions, as I think, explain
how it was that he died, after all, quietly in his bed. In the
event of his death by violence (that is to say, in the absence of
the regular letter from him at the appointed date), my father was
then directed to send the Moonstone secretly to Amsterdam. It was
to be deposited in that city with a famous diamond-cutter, and it
was to be cut up into from four to six separate stones. The stones
were then to be sold for what they would fetch, and the proceeds
were to be applied to the founding of that professorship of
experimental chemistry, which the Colonel has since endowed by his
Will. Now, Betteredge, exert those sharp wits of yours, and observe
the conclusion to which the Colonel's instructions point!"
I instantly exerted my wits. They were of the slovenly English
sort; and they consequently muddled it all, until Mr. Franklin took
them in hand, and pointed out what they ought to see.
"Remark," says Mr. Franklin, "that the integrity of the Diamond,
as a whole stone, is here artfully made dependent on the
preservation from violence of the Colonel's life. He is not
satisfied with saying to the enemies he dreads, 'Kill me—and you
will be no nearer to the Diamond than you are now; it is where you
can't get at it—in the guarded strong-room of a bank.' He says
instead, 'Kill me—and the Diamond will be the Diamond no longer;
its identity will be destroyed.' What does that mean?"
Here I had (as I thought) a flash of the wonderful foreign
"I know," I said. "It means lowering the value of the stone, and
cheating the rogues in that way!"
"Nothing of the sort," says Mr. Franklin. "I have inquired about
that. The flawed Diamond, cut up, would actually fetch more than
the Diamond as it now is; for this plain reason—that from four to
six perfect brilliants might be cut from it, which would be,
collectively, worth more money than the large—but imperfect single
stone. If robbery for the purpose of gain was at the bottom of the
conspiracy, the Colonel's instructions absolutely made the Diamond
better worth stealing. More money could have been got for it, and
the disposal of it in the diamond market would have been infinitely
easier, if it had passed through the hands of the workmen of
"Lord bless us, sir!" I burst out. "What was the plot,
"A plot organised among the Indians who originally owned the
jewel," says Mr. Franklin—"a plot with some old Hindoo superstition
at the bottom of it. That is my opinion, confirmed by a family
paper which I have about me at this moment."
I saw, now, why the appearance of the three Indian jugglers at
our house had presented itself to Mr. Franklin in the light of a
circumstance worth noting.
"I don't want to force my opinion on you," Mr. Franklin went on.
"The idea of certain chosen servants of an old Hindoo superstition
devoting themselves, through all difficulties and dangers, to
watching the opportunity of recovering their sacred gem, appears to
me to be perfectly consistent with everything that we know of the
patience of Oriental races, and the influence of Oriental
religions. But then I am an imaginative man; and the butcher, the
baker, and the tax-gatherer, are not the only credible realities in
existence to my mind. Let the guess I have made at the truth in
this matter go for what it is worth, and let us get on to the only
practical question that concerns us. Does the conspiracy against
the Moonstone survive the Colonel's death? And did the Colonel know
it, when he left the birthday gift to his niece?"
I began to see my lady and Miss Rachel at the end of it all,
now. Not a word he said escaped me.
"I was not very willing, when I discovered the story of the
Moonstone," said Mr. Franklin, "to be the means of bringing it
here. But Mr. Bruff reminded me that somebody must put my cousin's
legacy into my cousin's hands—and that I might as well do it as
anybody else. After taking the Diamond out of the bank, I fancied I
was followed in the streets by a shabby, dark-complexioned man. I
went to my father's house to pick up my luggage, and found a letter
there, which unexpectedly detained me in London. I went back to the
bank with the Diamond, and thought I saw the shabby man again.
Taking the Diamond once more out of the bank this morning, I saw
the man for the third time, gave him the slip, and started (before
he recovered the trace of me) by the morning instead of the
afternoon train. Here I am, with the Diamond safe and sound—and
what is the first news that meets me? I find that three strolling
Indians have been at the house, and that my arrival from London,
and something which I am expected to have about me, are two special
objects of investigation to them when they believe themselves to be
alone. I don't waste time and words on their pouring the ink into
the boy's hand, and telling him to look in it for a man at a
distance, and for something in that man's pocket. The thing (which
I have often seen done in the East) is 'hocus-pocus' in my opinion,
as it is in yours. The present question for us to decide is,
whether I am wrongly attaching a meaning to a mere accident? or
whether we really have evidence of the Indians being on the track
of the Moonstone, the moment it is removed from the safe keeping of
Neither he nor I seemed to fancy dealing with this part of the
inquiry. We looked at each other, and then we looked at the tide,
oozing in smoothly, higher and higher, over the Shivering Sand.
"What are you thinking of?" says Mr. Franklin, suddenly.
"I was thinking, sir," I answered, "that I should like to shy
the Diamond into the quicksand, and settle the question in THAT
"If you have got the value of the stone in your pocket,"
answered Mr. Franklin, "say so, Betteredge, and in it goes!"
It's curious to note, when your mind's anxious, how very far in
the way of relief a very small joke will go. We found a fund of
merriment, at the time, in the notion of making away with Miss
Rachel's lawful property, and getting Mr. Blake, as executor, into
dreadful trouble—though where the merriment was, I am quite at a
loss to discover now.
Mr. Franklin was the first to bring the talk back to the talk's
proper purpose. He took an envelope out of his pocket, opened it,
and handed to me the paper inside.
"Betteredge," he said, "we must face the question of the
Colonel's motive in leaving this legacy to his niece, for my aunt's
sake. Bear in mind how Lady Verinder treated her brother from the
time when he returned to England, to the time when he told you he
should remember his niece's birthday. And read that."
He gave me the extract from the Colonel's Will. I have got it by
me while I write these words; and I copy it, as follows, for your
"Thirdly, and lastly, I give and bequeath to my niece, Rachel
Verinder, daughter and only child of my sister, Julia Verinder,
widow—if her mother, the said Julia Verinder, shall be living on
the said Rachel Verinder's next Birthday after my death—the yellow
Diamond belonging to me, and known in the East by the name of The
Moonstone: subject to this condition, that her mother, the said
Julia Verinder, shall be living at the time. And I hereby desire my
executor to give my Diamond, either by his own hands or by the
hands of some trustworthy representative whom he shall appoint,
into the personal possession of my said niece Rachel, on her next
birthday after my death, and in the presence, if possible, of my
sister, the said Julia Verinder. And I desire that my said sister
may be informed, by means of a true copy of this, the third and
last clause of my Will, that I give the Diamond to her daughter
Rachel, in token of my free forgiveness of the injury which her
conduct towards me has been the means of inflicting on my
reputation in my lifetime; and especially in proof that I pardon,
as becomes a dying man, the insult offered to me as an officer and
a gentleman, when her servant, by her orders, closed the door of
her house against me, on the occasion of her daughter's
More words followed these, providing if my lady was dead, or if
Miss Rachel was dead, at the time of the testator's decease, for
the Diamond being sent to Holland, in accordance with the sealed
instructions originally deposited with it. The proceeds of the sale
were, in that case, to be added to the money already left by the
Will for the professorship of chemistry at the university in the
I handed the paper back to Mr. Franklin, sorely troubled what to
say to him. Up to that moment, my own opinion had been (as you
know) that the Colonel had died as wickedly as he had lived. I
don't say the copy from his Will actually converted me from that
opinion: I only say it staggered me.
"Well," says Mr. Franklin, "now you have read the Colonel's own
statement, what do you say? In bringing the Moonstone to my aunt's
house, am I serving his vengeance blindfold, or am I vindicating
him in the character of a penitent and Christian man?"
"It seems hard to say, sir," I answered, "that he died with a
horrid revenge in his heart, and a horrid lie on his lips. God
alone knows the truth. Don't ask me."
Mr. Franklin sat twisting and turning the extract from the Will
in his fingers, as if he expected to squeeze the truth out of it in
that manner. He altered quite remarkably, at the same time. From
being brisk and bright, he now became, most unaccountably, a slow,
solemn, and pondering young man.
"This question has two sides," he said. "An Objective side, and
a Subjective side. Which are we to take?"
He had had a German education as well as a French. One of the
two had been in undisturbed possession of him (as I supposed) up to
this time. And now (as well as I could make out) the other was
taking its place. It is one of my rules in life, never to notice
what I don't understand. I steered a middle course between the
Objective side and the Subjective side. In plain English I stared
hard, and said nothing.
"Let's extract the inner meaning of this," says Mr. Franklin.
"Why did my uncle leave the Diamond to Rachel? Why didn't he leave
it to my aunt?"
"That's not beyond guessing, sir, at any rate," I said. "Colonel
Herncastle knew my lady well enough to know that she would have
refused to accept any legacy that came to her from HIM."
"How did he know that Rachel might not refuse to accept it,
"Is there any young lady in existence, sir, who could resist the
temptation of accepting such a birthday present as The
"That's the Subjective view," says Mr. Franklin. "It does you
great credit, Betteredge, to be able to take the Subjective view.
But there's another mystery about the Colonel's legacy which is not
accounted for yet. How are we to explain his only giving Rachel her
birthday present conditionally on her mother being alive?"
"I don't want to slander a dead man, sir," I answered. "But if
he HAS purposely left a legacy of trouble and danger to his sister,
by the means of her child, it must be a legacy made conditional on
his sister's being alive to feel the vexation of it."
"Oh! That's your interpretation of his motive, is it? The
Subjective interpretation again! Have you ever been in Germany,
"No, sir. What's your interpretation, if you please?"
"I can see," says Mr. Franklin, "that the Colonel's object may,
quite possibly, have been—not to benefit his niece, whom he had
never even seen—but to prove to his sister that he had died
forgiving her, and to prove it very prettily by means of a present
made to her child. There is a totally different explanation from
yours, Betteredge, taking its rise in a Subjective-Objective point
of view. From all I can see, one interpretation is just as likely
to be right as the other."
Having brought matters to this pleasant and comforting issue,
Mr. Franklin appeared to think that he had completed all that was
required of him. He laid down flat on his back on the sand, and
asked what was to be done next.
He had been so clever, and clear-headed (before he began to talk
the foreign gibberish), and had so completely taken the lead in the
business up to the present time, that I was quite unprepared for
such a sudden change as he now exhibited in this helpless leaning
upon me. It was not till later that I learned—by assistance of Miss
Rachel, who was the first to make the discovery—that these puzzling
shifts and transformations in Mr. Franklin were due to the effect
on him of his foreign training. At the age when we are all of us
most apt to take our colouring, in the form of a reflection from
the colouring of other people, he had been sent abroad, and had
been passed on from one nation to another, before there was time
for any one colouring more than another to settle itself on him
firmly. As a consequence of this, he had come back with so many
different sides to his character, all more or less jarring with
each other, that he seemed to pass his life in a state of perpetual
contradiction with himself. He could be a busy man, and a lazy man;
cloudy in the head, and clear in the head; a model of
determination, and a spectacle of helplessness, all together. He
had his French side, and his German side, and his Italian side—the
original English foundation showing through, every now and then, as
much as to say, "Here I am, sorely transmogrified, as you see, but
there's something of me left at the bottom of him still." Miss
Rachel used to remark that the Italian side of him was uppermost,
on those occasions when he unexpectedly gave in, and asked you in
his nice sweet-tempered way to take his own responsibilities on
your shoulders. You will do him no injustice, I think, if you
conclude that the Italian side of him was uppermost now.
"Isn't it your business, sir," I asked, "to know what to do
next? Surely it can't be mine?"
Mr. Franklin didn't appear to see the force of my question—not
being in a position, at the time, to see anything but the sky over
"I don't want to alarm my aunt without reason," he said. "And I
don't want to leave her without what may be a needful warning. If
you were in my place, Betteredge, tell me, in one word, what would
In one word, I told him: "Wait."
"With all my heart," says Mr. Franklin. "How long?"
I proceeded to explain myself.
"As I understand it, sir," I said, "somebody is bound to put
this plaguy Diamond into Miss Rachel's hands on her birthday—and
you may as well do it as another. Very good. This is the
twenty-fifth of May, and the birthday is on the twenty-first of
June. We have got close on four weeks before us. Let's wait and see
what happens in that time; and let's warn my lady, or not, as the
circumstances direct us."
"Perfect, Betteredge, as far as it goes!" says Mr. Franklin.
"But between this and the birthday, what's to be done with the
"What your father did with it, to be sure, sir!" I answered.
"Your father put it in the safe keeping of a bank in London. You
put in the safe keeping of the bank at Frizinghall." (Frizinghall
was our nearest town, and the Bank of England wasn't safer than the
bank there.) "If I were you, sir," I added, "I would ride straight
away with it to Frizinghall before the ladies come back."
The prospect of doing something—and, what is more, of doing that
something on a horse—brought Mr. Franklin up like lightning from
the flat of his back. He sprang to his feet, and pulled me up,
without ceremony, on to mine. "Betteredge, you are worth your
weight in gold," he said. "Come along, and saddle the best horse in
the stables directly."
Here (God bless it!) was the original English foundation of him
showing through all the foreign varnish at last! Here was the
Master Franklin I remembered, coming out again in the good old way
at the prospect of a ride, and reminding me of the good old times!
Saddle a horse for him? I would have saddled a dozen horses, if he
could only have ridden them all!
We went back to the house in a hurry; we had the fleetest horse
in the stables saddled in a hurry; and Mr. Franklin rattled off in
a hurry, to lodge the cursed Diamond once more in the strong-room
of a bank. When I heard the last of his horse's hoofs on the drive,
and when I turned about in the yard and found I was alone again, I
felt half inclined to ask myself if I hadn't woke up from a